By Joel Hall
With the weather getting warmer, and the lakes at Clayton's International Park teeming with catfish, bass, and bream, the county's Parks and Recreation Department will host a Youth Fishing Derby this Saturday.
The event will take place from 9 a.m., to noon.
The derby will be divided into four age leagues -- six and under, seven to eight, nine to ten, and 11 to 13. In addition to prizes granted to children in each league with the longest fish, the heaviest fish, and the smallest fish, the first 50 participants to sign up will get a free fishing rod.
The last time the park hosted a Youth Fishing Derby was more than five years ago, said Lindsey DeLong, Parks and Recreation's marketing and sales specialist. Park administrators think this spring is a good time to re-introduce the program.
"The whole idea, in itself, is to get the community involved," said DeLong. "We're trying to let people know that we have this great fishing area. We've got these amenities out here ... they can come and use them."
Normally, at the very least, a one-day fishing license is required to fish within the county. Participants in Saturday's Youth Fishing Derby, however, will be able to forego this formality.
Troy Stubbs, International Park administrator, said the park stocked its lake with imported catfish in December, and at this time, the lake is full of fish, ranging from six inches to two-and-a-half feet in length.
"There are some big boys in there," said Stubbs. "We have been feeding them since last week and we stopped to make sure they were hungry for the fishing derby.
"Usually when the weather starts warming up, fish start biting again," Stubbs continued. "Anytime from April to September is good fishing."
Stubbs said throughout the derby, volunteers from the Eagle Scouts, Boy Scouts, Department of Natural Resources, and park employees will assist children and their parents with fishing advice.
"We wanted something where the parents and kids could do something together, but its mainly for the kids," said Stubbs.
Registration for the Youth Fishing Derby will begin at 8 a.m., on Saturday. The park is located at 2300 Hwy. 138 SE in Jonesboro. Call (770) 477-3766, for more information.