Excited screams could be heard ‘round the pond at McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery Saturday morning.
Children shouted, “Help Me!” and “Look, Look!” while reeling in various sizes and types of fish from the stocked pond.
Dads, grandpas and uncles baited hooks, untangled lines and helped drag fish out of the water. There were a few brave ladies on worm patrol, helping out the young anglers.
It was an eight-year-old girl the fish really seemed to favor - she reeled in catch after catch, each time more excited than the last.
“I can’t BELIEVE I caught a fish this big,” smiled Maurissa Powell, after fighting an 8.15 Channel Catfish all the way to the bank. “This is the biggest fish I’ve ever caught!”
“We fish all the time, and she’s never caught one this size,” said Maurice Powell. “She wants to keep what she catches today, so we’ll keep them,” he said, adding her fish to their cooler. “She’s catching them, so I guess that means I’ll be cleaning them.”
There were enough raffle prizes - tackle, poles, coloring books, bubbles and more - that all of the kids present received goodies. They seemed almost as excited to hear their numbers called to pick a prize, than to see their corks bob under with a fish.
Upon hearing a winning number, announced over loudspeaker, kids raced around the pond to claim a prize. Fishing and activities continued through the free hot dog lunch.
The grand prizes, a lifetime unified sportsman license and a lifetime fishing license, will be announced at a later date, after a state-wide drawing. All children who were registered at the event Saturday were entered to win.
McKinney Lake hosts a Children’s Day once a year, opening its stocked waters for kids to fish for free. Kids get to keep whatever they catch.
“I saw more big catfish being caught this year than in years past,” said Richmond County Wildlife Officer Sterling Welch. “The kids were really excited to have the opportunity to catch such big fish. And it’s a great opportunity for parents to do something fun with their kids outdoors - and almost be guaranteed that kids will get the chance to catch a fish.”
Over 100 kids registered for the fishing day, attendance was up over last year.