More than 50 children and their parents descended upon Dickert Pond in Camp Jordan, Saturday morning, to compete in the Optimist Club’s Fishing Rodeo.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the City of East Ridge’s Parks & Recreation Department stocked the pond with 500 pounds of catfish insuring that nobody would walk away disappointed.
“These are some of the best and liveliest fish we’ve ever got,” said Parks & Recreation Director Stump Martin. “They came from Demopolis, Alabama. I don’t know what it is but I’m tickled to death.”
The Optimists awarded trophies in two age divisions; eight and under, and nine and above. Trophies were given out for biggest fish, smallest fish, most fish and a grand prize that none of the officials could come to a consensus on how that is judged. Optimist member Jacky Cagle believed the big prize was computed on a points system. Fellow Optimist Ken Davis said the prize will go to the kid, regardless of age, who catches the biggest fish.
It didn’t take long before young Madilyn Pate, a winner in two previous years in her age division, hauled out a substantial catfish. She and her stepfather, Kyle Simpson, trudged up to the TWRA scoring table where Joe McSpadden put the measuring tape to it. The 22-inch long specimen brought a smile to Madilyn’s face and the conversation at the table centered on her fish as the biggest.
One person gathered at the table said that another 22-inch catfish was hauled in by Jacob Fookes.
“I’m going to win the big prize this year,” Madilyn said confidently as she and her stepdad marched with determination back to the pond for more fishing.
Size didn’t seem to matter to many of the children. The smile on Paradon O’Haver’s face was much bigger than the little bream she had on the end of her fishing line. Her mom, Terri, was just as jubilant as her daughter.
Optimist Club President Harry Mackey patrolled the edge of the pond with a goofy hat on and just as goofy a smile. He said he was very pleased with the participation and the support the club receives from the community.
“I think we’re doing pretty good here,” Mackey said. “You know we are all about helping the youth of this community and we’re getting that done.”
After the fishing was over, the kids and parents were invited to step up to the concession area and eat hot dogs and tell fish tales.
Martin said that he is going to approach Bass Pro Shops in the future to consult on stocking the pond to provide a fishing experience to all folks who come down to relax by wetting a line at the park.