Rodeo roundup: Kids’ fishing event hopes to hook new anglers

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

Youngsters looking to catch their first fish or their next fish can do plenty of both Saturday morning at Veterans Park in Tupelo.
The seventh annual Tupelo Parks and Recreation Fishing Rodeo kicks off with registration at 8:30 a.m. Fishing starts at 9 and continues until noon Saturday at Veterans Park.
Youngsters must be 15 years old or younger and must be accompanied by an adult. Adults can bait hooks and remove fish and otherwise assist, but the children have to do the lion’s share of the fishing.
In addition to 700 specially stocked catfish, the lake will contain a number of tagged fish whose harvest will net prizes at the registration tent. All youngsters participating may keep up to five fish each. The event is free but participants are responsible for bringing their own gear.
The lake that will host the event is on the north side of the street that runs between Veterans Boulevard and Elvis Presley Drive, bisecting the park. Turning in to the park from Veterans Boulevard, the lake in question will be the one on the left and there will be a green registration tent located along a gravel access road, clearly visible from the street.
According to Clay Coleman of Clay’s Bait and Tackle, the lake is already a hot spot for crappie, bass and bream, and the annual stocking of good-eating-sized catfish, combined with this weekend’s full moon, mean Saturday morning should be a great time to wet a line.
“The rodeo couldn’t be happening on a better Saturday,” Coleman said. “This is always our biggest day of the year at the store.”
Coleman said he’d be serving the fishing public in two locations this Saturday, both at his store and on-site at the event. At the on-site display he plans to have night crawlers, red worms, rooster livers and crickets, plus replacement tackle including hooks, split shot and floats, as well as snacks and drinks. Customers in need of more heavy duty supplies like rods and reels, or more perishable supplies like live minnows will be directed to his store at 205 S. Veterans Blvd., just south of Main Street.
Organizers of the event say they’re expecting one of the best yet.
“Last year we had between 150 and 175 kids fishing and we’re hoping for more this year,” Leigh Ann Mattox, with the parks and recreation department, said.
The event is co-sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and is one of 40 or so that take place statewide each year, netting an annual participation of more than 6,000 new fishing enthusiasts.
“The fishing rodeos give children, particularly those who’ve never had an opportunity to fish, a chance to learn about fishing in a controlled environment,” Tom Holman, with the Fisheries Bureau, said. “We get kids out there all the time who’ve never fished, and it exposes them to recreating outdoors so they’re not inside all the time playing video games.”

Gear and Grub
Like most outdoor pursuits, fishing can involve as much or as little equipment as any
given angler may prefer. Items for mentors of
new participants to definitely consider
include:

• Rod and reel

• Extra hooks

• Extra weights

• Extra floats

• Bait

• Stringer or basket for keepers

• Needle nose pliers for hook removal

• Small cooler

• Small hand towel to hang on your belt to keep from wiping your hands on your pants.
A golf towel is perfect.

• Nail clippers for cutting line

• Pocket knife for cutting everything else

• Mosquito repellent

• Sun screen

• Folding chair

• Drinking water

• Snacks

• Camera