• Issac McDew, 4, had no problems catching fish at the Fort McPherson Youth Fishing Rodeo held Oct. 10 at Lake 1 on Fort McPherson. McDew, who attended the event with his grandmother, Arlene Lyons, a self-employed home care provider, was one of many children who took part in the event, which was sponsored by the U.S. Army Garrison Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the city of East Point and the Unified Bassmasters of Atlanta organization.

    Fort McPherson hosts Youth Fishing Rodeo

    Issac McDew, 4, had no problems catching fish at the Fort McPherson Youth Fishing Rodeo held Oct. 10 at Lake 1 on Fort McPherson. McDew, who attended the event with his grandmother, Arlene Lyons, a self-employed home care provider, was one of many...

  • Josiah Blocus, 7, is all smiles after catching his first fish Oct. 10 at the Youth Fishing Rodeo held at Fort McPherson's Lake 1. Blocus attended with his grandmother, Sherlyn Martin, Cruiseone travel agent, and brother, Josiah, 7. Josiah caught the event's first fish.

    Fort McPherson hosts Youth Fishing Rodeo

    Josiah Blocus, 7, is all smiles after catching his first fish Oct. 10 at the Youth Fishing Rodeo held at Fort McPherson's Lake 1. Blocus attended with his grandmother, Sherlyn Martin, Cruiseone travel agent, and brother, Josiah, 7. Josiah caught the...

  • Isiah Bradford (left), 13, focuses on his line while his uncle, Zuri Carr (center, in red), a stay-at-home father, points out where he sees some activity. Though the fish were biting, Bradford only managed to catch two. His twin brother, Hezekiah, fared a bit better, catching 14 fish. It was the first time the brothers had been fishing.

    Fort McPherson hosts Youth Fishing Rodeo

    Isiah Bradford (left), 13, focuses on his line while his uncle, Zuri Carr (center, in red), a stay-at-home father, points out where he sees some activity. Though the fish were biting, Bradford only managed to catch two. His twin brother, Hezekiah...

  • James Palmer, president of the Unified Bassmasters of Atlanta, advises Shanterriah Williams, 12, on the finer points of catching fish.

    Fort McPherson hosts Youth Fishing Rodeo

    James Palmer, president of the Unified Bassmasters of Atlanta, advises Shanterriah Williams, 12, on the finer points of catching fish.

  • Fishermen gather around the weigh-in table to have their catches logged. At the end of the event, the 54 children had caught 187 fish.

    Fort McPherson hosts Youth Fishing Rodeo

    Fishermen gather around the weigh-in table to have their catches logged. At the end of the event, the 54 children had caught 187 fish.

  • Steven Sparks, 13, son of Ralph Sparks, manpower branch chief, U.S. Forces Command G8, holds up fish he caught at the rodeo. The two plan to release some of the fish in a pond near their home to help stock it.

    Fort McPherson hosts Youth Fishing Rodeo

    Steven Sparks, 13, son of Ralph Sparks, manpower branch chief, U.S. Forces Command G8, holds up fish he caught at the rodeo. The two plan to release some of the fish in a pond near their home to help stock it.

Teach a child to fish, and you'll create a life long fisherman.

This was the goal of the Fort McPherson Youth Fishing Rodeo Oct. 10.

The fishing rodeo, hosted by the Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation, in partnership with the city of East Point and the United Bassmasters of Atlanta, allowed more than 54 children from the Fort McPherson, Fort Gillem and surrounding communities to fish in the man-made lake near the entrance to Fort McPherson.

"It's a family event. We want to get the children involved," said Jerry Askin, intramural sports director, Fort McPherson DFMWR.

Families and kids were out in force despite the previous night's rain and the outlook for more inclement weather. Fishermen ranged in age from 2 to 14 years old and in experience from first timers to old hands.

No matter the skill levels of the fishermen, members of the UBA were on hand to help the kids out.

"This is our third year coming out and assisting kids with fishing," said UBA president James Palmer. "It's about being able to help someone, all about giving back."

Palmer, who has been fishing since he was a boy, more than 40 years, said there are a lot of skills that need to be learned to become an effective fisherman.

Knowing what to do when getting a bite, reading the water to determine where fish are and developing patience are all skills vital to a fisherman, said Palmer.

Patience was one lesson Col. Cheryl Taylor-Whitehead, commander, Lawrence Joel U.S. Army Health Clinic, was hoping her twin children, Kayla and Caleb, 7, were learning.

Their father, Jerome Whitehead, said the two were fishing for the first time. He hoped they would come away from the event with a love of nature and greater appreciation for the outdoors. He also hoped for a little something else, something that might let him get more time behind his own rod and reel.

"Hopefully they'll get hooked, like their dad," he said.

Having the love of fishing passed on among Families was a goal of the event, said Palmer.

"Someone taught me," he said. "One day they'll (the children he was teaching) be teaching other kids."

Besides learning skills on how to fish, Palmer said children were also learning a survival skill.

"In a worst-case scenario, you can fish for food," he said. "Fish are a good thing to eat."

Isiah Bradford, 13, another first-time fisherman, who attended with his uncle, Zuri Carr, a stay-at-home dad, said he was hoping to catch some dinner.

"If I catch a big one, I'll fry it and eat it," he said.

Unfortunately, Bradford only managed to catch two, neither of which was large enough to eat.

It was the case for many of the catches, causing some to remark that the smiles on the children's faces were larger than the fish themselves.

Steven Sparks, 13, son of Ralph Sparks, manpower branch chief, U.S. Army Forces Command G8, faired a little better, catching 10 fish, many big enough to cook. He said some may end up in the frying pan while others will end up stocking a pond near his home.

Fishermen wrangled in 187 fish by the end of the rodeo. Each participants had his or her fish tally counted, with a trophy given out to the fisherman with the most fish caught and the youngest fisherman.

Medals were also given out to the top two fishermen in three different age groups: 6 year olds and younger; 7 to 10 years old; and 11 to 13 years old.

Even for people who didn't get a trophy or medal, there were other gifts to go around. All participants received a certification of participation and a small gift.

Some, like Bradford, left the rodeo with a less tangible prize in hand.

"I've always had the desire, but my dad's in the hospital frequently due to health problems," he said. "It was fun that I finally got to get out and fish."

Bradford wasn't the only one thankful for the opportunity provided.

"It's a good family outing," Taylor-Whitehead said. "I'm glad Fort McPherson sponsored this event to give us something to do as a Family."

Page last updated Thu October 15th, 2009 at 14:04