By Joel Hall
Last year, nearly 200 Clayton County children were able to enjoy the sport of fishing during the county's Parks and Recreation Department's first Youth Fishing Derby.
This Saturday, boys and girls will have the chance to cast their fishing poles once more. The second annual Youth Fishing Derby will take place at Clayton County International Park on May 9, from 9 a.m., to 12 p.m.
According to International Park Administrator Troy Stubbs, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources will stock the park's upper lake with bass, brim, and catfish, especially for the event. "We don't allow fish in [the lake], except for this event," Stubbs said. "It requires a lot of patience [to fish], but not in this place. Everybody will catch something."
According to Stubbs, 193 kids turned out for last year's fishing derby. As with last year, the first 50 participants will receive a free fishing rod. And this year, the first 200 participants will receive free T-shirts.
The derby will be open to children 13 years old and younger, who will compete in four age categories (6 and under, 7-8, 9-10, and 10-13 years old) to catch the heaviest, and the longest fish. The lake will also be stocked with albino catfish, for which there will be special prizes awarded to the children able to catch them.
Stubbs said members of Boy Scout Troop 365 (Jonesboro First Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) will also be on hand to help first-time anglers bait their hooks and remove fish from them.
"It's a chance to be outside, a chance to learn new experiences that aren't related to your everyday sports, like football, baseball, and basketball," Stubbs said.
Amy Keeney, marketing and sales manager for the Parks and Recreation Department, said the Youth Fishing Derby is one of the department's most popular events. While serving as a marketing tool for the park, it is also an enjoyable time for children and their parents.
"It's a great time of the year for families to get out and enjoy the park," Keeney said. "We had done a lot of marketing for the event [last year], so we found that a lot of people were coming to the park for the first time.
"I just like that it brings families together and allows them to enjoy the outdoors," Keeney added. "It's fun to catch a fish. There's nothing like seeing a child's face doing that. It's very rewarding for adults and children."
Registration for the Youth Fishing Derby is free, and will begin at 8 a.m., on Saturday. The park is located at 2300 Highway 138 S.E. in Jonesboro. Call (770) 477-3766, for more information.