Under cloudy conditions and occasional sprinkling, about 50 kids, accompanied by parents and other relatives, fished the Huckabee Lake Saturday morning as part of the Kids Fishing Derby put on by Hope Parks and Recreation.
The attendance was quite an improvement over last year, when only six youngsters came out to try their angling luck. But this year was an obvious success, with fishermen to be found every two or three feet around the water. “I like to see all these kids out here,” Brandon Cox, who works maintenance for the Parks Department.
Cox said the spillway between the two lakes had been closed to keep the 200 catfish in for the children to catch. Hope Parks Superintendent Summer Powell said Arkansas Game and Fish had placed the 200 in the pond Friday. “They’re in there somewhere,” she said.
Powell was also pleased by the turnout. “I can’t imagine if it was sunny how many people we would have,” she said.
Registration began at 8 a.m. and one hour later, the lake was open for fishing, with children up to age 15 finding places around the lake from which to cast their hooks. Whoever had either the most fish, or the most pounds of fish would win prizes.
The prizes included bags of bait, decorated tackle boxes, rods and reels and a Gone Fishin’ Easter backet
Jaquan Stuckey, 15, a student at Arkansas High in Texarkana, was one young fishermen determined to haul in fish. He said he had already put seven years into the hobby but today was his first day at Huckabee. He was using worms and catfish bait.
Davis Johnson, 13, of Hope who goes to school at the Hope Academy of Public Service, said getting up early was tough, but he was glad to have come. “It was a little tiring at first, kind of sleepy, but I’m okay now,” he said.
Owen Shelton, from Hope, and his mother were rounding the lake’s southeast corner as a catfish dangled at the end of Shelton’s line. He was proud to have his picture taken with his catch.
Nearby, King McFadden, seven, sat watching his plastic weight. He told me that though he didn’t like to eat fish, he liked catching them for his grandparents.
Among the baits used Saturday morning were catfish bait, chicken livers and worms. But Raleigh McMurrough favored marshmallows. Asked what her favorite fish was to catch, she answered quickly. “Bass,” she said.
Uniformed members of the Boy Scouts of America patrolled the lake. One of these, Sterling Sawyer walked the lake’s perimeter, “in case someone should fall in,” while giving the occasional fishing tip to help the kids perfect their craft.