Young fishermen wow with big catches at Lakeland rodeo

LAKELAND – Warm spring temps and calm winds had youth anglers, ages 4-12, reeling ‘em in early on the morning of Saturday, May 19, for Lakeland’s annual Children’s Fishing Rodeo.

The event, held at the five-acre lake at I.H. Park, was hosted by Parks and Recreation Department staff. Sponsors were the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Lakeland Lions Club.

Approximately 800 lbs. of catfish were stocked in the lake earlier in the week by the TWRA. The City of Lakeland was awarded 300 lbs. of catfish and prize giveaways by the TWRA for the fishing rodeo.

Seven-year-old Ella Burnett of Lakeland and eight-year-old, Leo Kimery of Mason reeled in the first two fish of the morning within minutes of dropping their lines.

Ella was not only the first girl to catch a fish, she also won the “Most Fish Caught, Girl” category and the “Longest Fish” category. The big catch of the day measured in at 20.5 inches. The second grader at Lakeland Elementary went home with a stringer of seven catfish, and two trophies for her fishing efforts.

Six-year-old, Hudson Tapp found himself a nice fishing hole, and took home the trophy for the “Most Fish Caught, Boy” category. He reeled in 20 catfish for the day. The Lakeland Elementary kindergartner caught the most fish of anyone at the rodeo. His granddad, Donny, caught two hefty catfish himself when TWRA officer and emcee of the event Andy Tweed gave grandparents a chance to fish.

Tweed was presented a plaque by the Parks and Recreation Department for his dedication to the annual fishing rodeo in Lakeland for more than 10 years. Tweed has emceed the community-wide event since its existence. “The fishing rodeo is a great day for families who like to be outdoors,” said Tweed. “It’s a pleasure being part of this event. I look forward to every year.”