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Reelin' 'em in

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By Jamillia Colson

FAMU student

 

The Crappie Master Tournament All-American Trail has set its track through the Panhandle of Gadsden County. As part of the tournament’s activities this past Saturday, the pros stepped aside to allow younger anglers to cast their line on Lake Talquin.

The aim of the annual Kids Fishing Rodeo is to encourage youngsters to embrace nature and understand the value of professional fishing as a sports career.

Gadsden County Commission Chairperson Brenda Holt said commissioners are interested in the county’s children and want to “get them outside of the box. We are going for economical achievements for our children. So, the crappie tournament is a good time for our children to work together, learn how to fish and it’s a good recreational activity if they don’t plan to do this for a profession.”

Children of all ages, from infants to 15-year-olds were welcome to come out and fish for an hour at Ingram’s Marina. The youngest attendee was 3-year old Shedric Anderson, who fell in love with the sport for himself by following his older brother to the lake.

The big winner of the Kids Rodeo was 11-year-old Kalijah “Bucket” Battles. Battles had the only catch of the morning. His winning catch weighed in at more than 3.5 pounds.  Along with bragging rights and a really big fish, Battles won a Red Sox fishing rod cover. 

There weren’t any losers at the Kids Rodeo; all contestants took home a prize for participating in the event.  

The opportunities at the Crappie Masters Kids Rodeo did not end with take-home consolation prizes; contestants who qualify will be entered in the national fishing championship.     

“10 to 12-year-olds and the 13 to 15-year-old categories will have the opportunity to be put in a drawing, and three will be drawn out to have the opportunity to come fish in our national championship in Tupelo, Mo. They will be able to win scholarships, a few thousand-dollar scholarships that can be used at any two-year or four-year college nationwide,” said long time announcer/emcee of the Crappie Masters Tournament, Brian Sower.

Professional fishing competitions can be a lucrative enterprise for competitors and local businesses.  Gadsden County leaders involved with hosting the Crappie Masters hope to promote economic development and boost tourism to the panhandle.

“We want to let everyone, all over the country, know that we are a destination to come for fishing. We want to be on the major circuits for fishing. We want to get our local people into that profession,” said Holt.