Brandon Goodin, 14, and Blake Kenly, 12, had 13 fish between them. The rodeo saw more the 500 fishermen and their families attend the event. The goal of the fishing rodeo program is to teach children to fish, enjoy the outdoors and give them something to do in a secure, safe atmosphere.
Brandon Goodin, 14, and Blake Kenly, 12, had 13 fish between them. The rodeo saw more the 500 fishermen and their families attend the event. The goal of the fishing rodeo program is to teach children to fish, enjoy the outdoors and give them something to do in a secure, safe atmosphere.
Saturday started early at Neshoba Lake as more than 500 young fishermen and their families came for the annual Youth Catfish Rodeo.

If you were looking for a parking place within a mile of the gate, you had better have come about 45 minutes to an hour early. Registration started at 7 a.m. and the line is always long.

But really, that's OK. There are always plenty of catfish to catch. And it's worth the wait. Only fishermen aged 15 and younger were allowed to register and fish for this event, though some needed a little help from family members. And afterwards, the kids are the ones who are eligible for the prizes.

"We do 57 fishing rodeos like this around the state," said Sherry Hazelwood of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. "But this one is always the biggest.

"The community really gets out and supports this rodeo. I get calls from businesses telling me to come by and pick up prizes. I don't even have to call," Hazelwood said.

The catfish rodeo is always held around the pier. That area has been separated from the rest of the lake with nets, and the Wildlife department brings in plenty of extra catfish the week prior. This accomplished two things. It gives the kids plenty of catfish to catch. Afterwards, it puts extra fish in the lake for the rest of us.

Twelve catfish are specially tagged and the fishermen who catch one of them get a prize.

The day makes for many happy memories, even when not all the members of the family can be there.

"His grandfather always brings him," one proud grandmother said as she looked at her grandson's string of fish. "But he had to work at the coal mine today so I brought him."

Hazelwood said the goal of the fishing rodeo program is to teach children to fish, enjoy the outdoors and give them something to do in a secure, safe atmosphere.

"Our saying is 'keep a kid on the bank and off the streets,'" Hazelwood said.