By Ed Brock
It certainly isn't the baiting of the hook that draws 10-year-old Joshua Douglas to fishing.
Taking his catch off that hook is another thing Douglas leaves to his mother Vanessa Douglas, but that won't keep him out of Saturday's Army Garrison Fort Gillem/Forest Park Fishing Rodeo.
"I just get to have fun," Joshua said.
It's the fourth year for the rodeo that is part of the existing partnership agreement between the city and the fort. In fact, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday Fort Gillem Commander Col. Harold E. Cooney and Forest Park Mayor Chuck Hall will sign a proclamation to extend the partnership.
"Mayor Hall suggested we do something for the kids," said Doug Guy with Fort McPherson.
The rodeo at Stephens Lake is open to children under 13 and registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with the fishing starting at 9 a.m. Awards will be given for first, second and third place in the age categories of 6 and under, 7 to 8, 9 to 10 and 11 to 13.
Fishers must provide their own rod and reel and they must use cut or live bait, no lures.
That's why Vanessa Douglas, a city of Forest Park employee who taught her son to fish, will be there.
"He loves it but he's not one to take the fish off the pole," Vanessa Douglas said.
The children will be fishing for bream, bass and catfish. The lake has recently been stocked with 700 more catfish, Guy said.
But Joshua isn't picky.
"Whatever grabs the hook," Joshua said, who admits didn't catch many fish last year.
He wasn't the only one. Guy said last year heavy rains the day before the rodeo kept catches down.
Along with praying against rain for two or three days prior to this year's tournament, the fort's environmental personnel will turn off the feeders today.
"We're hoping that will make the fish hungry and ready to bite," Guy said.
About 60 children participated in last year's rodeo, said Sharon Smith with the Forest Park Recreation Department.
"We've had some children come out and for some of them it's their first time fishing ever," Smith said.
Fort Gillem's Jonesboro Road gate will be open for inbound traffic from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and for outbound traffic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Other partnership activities between city and fort are joint training between the police and fire departments for both and an annual safety day for Forest Park elementary school students.
For more information call Guy at (404) 464-3762 or Smith at (404) 363-2908.