Fishing can be challenging for kids, but McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery can practically guarantee that youngsters can reel in an impressive catch.
One day a year, the hatchery opens up its 420-acre site to children and invites kids to cast their lines into hatchery ponds.
The hatchery is home to more than 150,000 channel catfish, and kids can have the opportunity to catch a few on Saturday.
“It’s a farm pond setting, and fish are more concentrated so that gives kids a really good chance of catching fish,” said Assistant Hatchery Manager Doug Hinshaw. “I seem to remember one child catching an eight pound channel cat last year.”
Kids ages 15 and younger can fish the ponds for free, and keep what they catch. Parents can assist younger kids with fishing.
Registration is from 7 to 8 a.m., fishing lasts from 8 a.m. until noon. Guests may bring one rod per child, along with favorite bait selections.
More than 150 participants enjoyed a day of fun and fishing at last year’s event, and McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery Director Rick Bradford expects another great turnout this year.
“This is such a fun way to give back to the community each year,” said Bradford. “Everyone here has a regular job to do, but this event allows us to have a little fun along the way. We’re very proud to host this Children’s Fishing Day and hope that we see a record turnout from all of the areas around Richmond County,” he added.
The event is not a competition. Raffle prizes and a hot dog lunch will be provided, courtesy of sponsors like the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, Pepsi and the Tri-City Bass Masters Club of Richmond County.
Young anglers registered at the McKinney Lake Children’s Fishing Day are eligible to enter a statewide drawing for fishing-related prizes, such as tackle boxes, rod and reels, fish playing cards, fishing towels and much more. The grand prize, a lifetime unified sportsman license, is generously donated by Neuse Sport Shop, located in Kinston. First prize, a lifetime fishing license, is generously donated by the N.C. State Council of Trout Unlimited. 150 other fishing-related prizes are donated by Bass Pro Shops and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Richmond County’s McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery is one of only six such facilities in the entire State of North Carolina. The site has 24 total ponds, each eight feet deep with aeration capabilities to regulate the oxygen levels in the water. The facility’s prime responsibility is to keep many of North Carolina’s ponds stocked throughout the Piedmont region including public lake areas in Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Employees of the hatchery average about 30 stocking exercises each month from April to September.
All parties interested in attending the 2012 Children’s Fishing Day at the McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery are welcome to attend. The facility is located at 220 McKinney Lake Road, Hoffman. For more information, call 910-895-5330.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.