Youths learn the value of patience and good bait

Under gray skies Saturday morning, 90 children from Lakeland and surrounding communities gathered around I.H. Managerial Park Lake to try their luck at earning a fishing trophy.

Children ages 4-12 competed in the Annual Children’s Fishing Rodeo, starting at 8 a.m. Parents kept a close eye on the little ones to keep them from slinging their hooks perilously close to other fishers, but several of the older youths cast far into the lake with expert flicks of their wrists. Others were just as happy poking at their crickets or worm bait. And some couldn’t resist snagging nearly everything with their fishing nets … including their own heads.

There were a few minor squabbles about “You caught MY fish!” but parents once again quieted the children and directed their attention back to the lake. Organizers with loud horns honked across the lake each time a child pulled in another wriggling line of fishing glory.

Three of the young fishermen went home with trophies:

  • Breleigh Bunker, 10, of Lakeland earned the Longest Fish trophy with her 24.75-inch prize catch.
  • Leo Kimery, 7, of Mason reeled in six fish and took home the trophy for Most Fish Caught – Boy.
  • Ella Burnett, 5, of Lakeland caught eight fish and won the trophy for Most Fish Caught – Girl.

Mid-day showers cancelled the School of Rock event planned later that afternoon at the park, but the evening’s entertainment was still on at the Lakeland Amphitheatre with musical stylings by the Dantones, starting at 7 p.m.