Kids practiced casting, while parents untangled lines and baited hooks.
Perhaps the cooler evenings discouraged early morning bites because, unlike last year, corks sat dead in the water for a couple of hours before the kids saw any real action.
“It’s really about just spending the morning with the kids and letting them have a good time,” said Denita Johnson, of Rockingham.
As the sun crept higher in the sky some kids abandoned their poles to play in puddles, test out unripened raspberries growing wild at the edge of the woods or just talk to new friends. Adults diligently watched poles for a nibble, calling wandering children back to reel in any bites.
Once the fish started biting, some kids were pulling in monster catfish and others filled up stringers and buckets to the brim. Everyone around the small pond clapped and cheered each time someone reeled in a big fish, and kids raced to see the giant turtle lifted out of the water in a net.
“I think the biggest channel catfish caught on Saturday was around 14 or 15 pounds,” said Fish Hatchery Director Rick Bradford.
Throughout the morning, raffle tickets were drawn and kids raced to claim their prizes of coloring books, fishing poles, bubbles and other novelty items. Older kids handed off their toys to the little ones, who were thrilled with the gifts. Family fishing seemed to bring out the best in everyone.
Just in time to answer complaints of “I’m hungry,” the crowd was served hot dogs, chips and drinks — on the house.
“We had approximately 110 children register for the fishing event,” said Bradford. “It was a really good day, and the weather was beautiful.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.