Fishing with fathers in Okolona

By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal

OKOLONA – It is a simple solution to a serious problem and all it takes is a little time and TLC.

The Third Annual Fishing With Fathers saw more than 40 people take part in a fishing expedition just outside of Okolona Saturday morning with kids getting a chance to fish and fathers and other male role models getting some quality time with youngsters.

“This was one of Mr. (William) Raspberry’s favorite projects for Baby Steps,” said Carla James of Baby Steps, a program started by Raspberry to teach and strengthen parenting skills. “It’s really rather simple: we provide parents with a chance to take their child fishing and we give away books that we hope parents will read to their kids.”

Fishermen gathered at Omar Moore’s pond on Moore Road to fish.

“Take all the fish you want, but please make sure you have a good time with your child,” said Moore a contemporary of Raspberry. “Bill always loved to come out here and I think he would be very pleased to know we are continuing his legacy.”

Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist with the Washington Post and native of Okolona, died this summer of prostate cancer.

“Fishing is what draws kids and parents to this event, but it is not the focus,” said James. “Spending time with a child means so much to them. Making that positive memory is so important to both parents and kids.”

James said books were provided to parents before they hit the pool bank.

“There is a lot of extra time when you fish,” said James. “Getting a parent to fill up some of that time by reading to their child is just another positive experience for them.”

James said fishing also teaches patience and allows a parent to sit and explain the art of baiting a hook, casting a line and catching fish.

And there were hotdogs, potato chips and soft drinks, too.

Fishing With Fathers was open to children between the ages of 3 and 8. The only requirement was they be accompanied by a father, grandfather, mentor or male role model.

“We want to thank those people who helped with this event,” said James. “We especially want to thank those parents and children who showed up for Fishing With Fathers. This event grows every time we have it and we hope it will be bigger next year.”