Kids learn the fun of fishing

May. 19, 2014 @ 01:15 PM

A cry of joy rang out over the waters of a small pond at Tuttle Educational State Forest as 8-year-old Jonathan Bugg caught his first fish.

Holding up the fish as it tossed and flopped on his fishing hook, Bugg called over his grandfather to take a picture for Facebook. Bugg said he knew there was a fish on the line at last because he could feel the critter tugging at the worm. He shook his hand up and down to imitate how his bob was moving in the water.

His grandfather, Paul Mayfield, unhooked the fish from Bugg’s Transformers fishing pole. Mayfield attached a new worm to Bugg’s hook and pricked his finger.

“You’ve got to be careful with these hooks, boys,” he told Bugg and his other grandchildren. “That was a good little fish, Jonathan. We’re going to have to do this more often, aren’t we?”

Bugg was one of nearly 100 kids who caught a fish or two at the eighth annual Fish for Fun Day at Tuttle Educational State Forest on Saturday. Every year, the rangers open the gates and allow kids and their parents to fish in the two small ponds near the back of the property. The water is brimming with blue channel catfish, and if the catch is big enough, the rangers will fillet the fish and fry it up for lunch for the families.

Ranger Scott Leatherwood said, “The main point is to get kids outside and catch fish. That’s what it’s all about. We want to have fun.”

Leatherwood said that when fishing began at 7 a.m., kids were pulling fish from the ponds left and right. There was not a cloud in the sky, and as the temperature warmed up, the day was perfect for sitting around the water, mingling with friends and catching a fish.

“Last year about this time it started raining,” Leatherwood said. “It just poured! We quit at 10 a.m.”

This year, several kids and their parents were still around the ponds at 10, and everyone was chowing down on hot dogs, thanks to donations from Food Lion, Just Save and FairValue, or the fish the children had caught earlier. The kids also received a free T-shirt with “Fish for Fun Day” on the back, donated by Rudisill’s Village Grocery.

Bugg was more interested in the fishing, however, and immediately set back to work on getting another one, red fishing rod swinging over his shoulder and back toward the water in the perfect cast.

“I don’t have a secret,” he said about fishing. “That was my first time ever. I’m going to catch another fish, then.”

Keenan Norris, 7, on the other hand, had different feelings about fishing. He did not want to let his catch go.

“Since I got it, I want to keep it as a pet,” Norris said. “My brother has a dog, but I don’t have my own pet.”

Shy and quiet, Norris would much rather eat his granddad’s fried crappie than his new friend from the pond. Norris would much rather cast the rod over and over than catch any more fish.