Kids Fishing Derby brings out family, friendly competition

By Laura LeveringJune 10, 2021

1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Little anglers — ages 3 to 15 — and their parents are on hand by the dozens June 5 around Claypit Lakes for a fishing derby. The day’s data included 131 kids helping haul in 559 fish, with a total weight of 564.34 pounds. (Photo Credit: Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office ) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Brothers Emmanuel Smith, left, 7, and Kirk Smith, 10, of Augusta, have trophies to take home June 5, following their productive participation in the fishing derby around Claypit Lakes. (Photo Credit: Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office ) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The morning scene around Claypit Lakes June 5 has plenty of kids and parents on hand for a fishing derby. The Saturday statistics included 131 children bringing in 559 fish, with a total weight of 564.34 pounds. (Photo Credit: Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office ) VIEW ORIGINAL
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Alejandro Caban Jr., 6, and his dad have a catfish catch ready for weighing June 5, wrapping up their participation in the fishing derby. (Photo Credit: Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office ) VIEW ORIGINAL
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – “Army kid” Stevie Laughead has a firm grip on a trophy she won June 5 for excellent performance in the kids fishing derby — 28 fish, with a total weight of 24.22 pounds. She went fishing with her dad, Staff Sgt. Dennis Laughead, 116th Military Intelligence Brigade. (Photo Credit: Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office ) VIEW ORIGINAL

Claypit Lakes was surrounded by dozens of families and filled with hundreds of fish on the morning of June 5.

Fort Gordon’s Outdoor Recreation and the Directorate of Public Works’ Natural Resources Branch hosted the Spring 2021 Kids Fishing Derby. The annual event brought in 131 children, whose reels caught a total of 559 catfish with a weigh-in total of 564.34 pounds.

Dov Estroff, Tactical Advantage Sportsman’s Complex facility manager and event host, said “the fish this year were amazing,” while giving credit to DPW’s Steven Camp, who Estroff said stocks the lakes a few days prior to ensure there is an abundance of fish for harvesting.

“They leave the feeders off so they’re good and hungry by the time the kids come to give the kids a good opportunity to catch something,” Estroff said.

Participation in the event was free. The only thing participants needed to bring was a fishing pole and a container to store any fish they wished to keep. Bait was provided as were lunch and drinks. Registration began at 7 a.m., and children had until 11 a.m. to see how many fish they could catch. Everyone who participated was eligible to win one of several door prizes, and trophies were awarded to the top three kids in four different age groups.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Kish, Cyber Protection Brigade, said he and his wife appreciate events such as this because it “helps encourage kids to get away from the computers and get outside” – underscoring one of several purposes of the fishing derby, Estroff said.

“It’s an opportunity to get the youth out, introduce them to fishing, and spend quality outdoor family time together,” he said. “Anybody can pick up a rod and learn, but it does take practice just like any other sport.”

There are 26 controlled lakes on Fort Gordon, along with many ponds and streams, which are stocked with a variety of fish.

Fishing on Fort Gordon is open to active-duty and retired military personnel, active and retired Department of Defense civilians, and families of these individuals. A public access lottery allows a certain number of individuals from the general public to purchase a hunting or fishing permit. Applications for the lottery will be available July 1-15.

Those wishing to hunt and fish on Fort Gordon must have a valid state of Georgia Hunting or Fishing License. All hunters, regardless of age, must possess proof of completion of a state-approved hunter education course. All individuals under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a licensed individual 18 years old or older.

To learn more about the next kids fishing derby and other upcoming events, visit

“We also invite folks who want to get more involved in outdoor activities to think about joining the Fort Gordon Sportsman’s Club,” Estroff said.

The club meets every third Thursday of the month at the Tactical Advantage Sportsman’s Complex and is open to the public. Call TASC at 706-791-5078 for more information.

Don’t forget to check in!

iSportsman is an online system that allows patrons to check in and out of any recreation activities conducted in the Range Training Area Complex. It also allows them to purchase permits for hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation and harvesting of forest products from a computer or mobile device. To begin using the program, visit