Children, grandparents and parents were reeling the fish in continuously on Saturday at the Richmond County Ducks Unlimited Greenwing event, held at McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery.
For the cost of $20 per child, the ticket included a rod, some bait and tackle, a Ducks Unlimited Hat and T-shirt and a duck call, as well as a good lunch.
The children seized the opportunity to break in their new rods catching fish for a majority of the day, while being educated about wildlife and safety during breaks from the pond. One girl, Tatum Hubbard, caught the largest catfish of the day weighing about 14 pounds.
“We came here towards the end of spring for Kids Day also,” said 11-year-old Tatum.
Hoffman Fire and Rescue had a fire engine on display for children taking a break from casting lines. They were given a chance to climb and play in the truck.
“There’s not a kid alive that doesn’t like a fire truck,” said Fire Chief Frank McKay, who has attended the event every year since it began.
“We enjoy doing for our community and promoting fire safety, and we also enjoy the other displays to look at. That’s always fascinating,” McKay said.
Another popular attraction was the B.B. gun trailer. Kids waited their turn patiently in the beaming sun to shoot an air rifle at the targets set up by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.
“It’s like being at a carnival for them,” said North Carolina Wildlife Officer Justin Covil. “There have been several kids come up that have never shot an air rifle before. It also gives them the opportunity to learn and demonstrate gun safety as well.”
Most families were all too happy to gather under the shade trees to await the retrieval demonstration provided by Sundog Kennels of Ellerbe.
“We import dogs from Ireland,” said Wade Meacham of Sundog Kennels. “I do gun dog and obedience training.”
A 9-year-old Irish Labrador named Cody set the example on retrieval as he was coached through the pond to his goal, then returned with the decoy by taking the exact same route.
For his stellar swimming performance, Cody was treated to a needed break, while the dog handlers freed a litter of Irish Lab pups to scramble among the rambunctious children, who tossed items into pond for the puppies to retrieve.
— Staff Writer Cassidy Odom can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 16, or by email at email@example.com.