By Joseph McCain The Winston County Journal
It was free fishing day in at Legion State Park on Saturday, and nearly 200 young anglers crowded the lake to snag a catfish. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries stocked the big lake at Legion State Park for the Annual Kids and Katfish Rodeo. The event aims to develop a love for the outdoors in the youth. The event was free for anyone under 14 years of age. “We want to get people out to see the park and encourage future park usage,” said Sherry Hazelwood Fishing Rodeo Coordinator for Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks. Many of the young anglers reeled in several fish with a five fish limit. Taylor Goodin was proud of her 4.3 lb catfish which she reeled in before 9 a.m. Hazelwood noted that while the children were excited to catch the fish the day was really about developing family time in the outdoors. “It’s a tradition for parents to teach their kids the skills of fishing, and the park’s event gives families a chance to bond every day of the year, said Hazelwood as she pointed out a father leaning over his son shoulder to help set his line to cast out. The MWDFP employees also hope the day helps the children and parents get hooked on fishing and conservation. The prizes at the end of the event like fishing poles were given out to keep kids excited about park usage and the outdoors. “It’s a win- win situation,” said Hazelwood, “The children hopefully gain a love of fishing and getting outdoors. The parents gain a great memory of spending the day with their child and the parks hopefully gain lifelong admirers.” The event also featured Local Boy Scout Troop 5 leading the Pledge of Allegiance, Tracy McCully singing the National Anthem and State Senator Giles Ward serving as the master of ceremonies. Ward encouraged all the attendees to support the parks since parks were one of the items possibly facing budget cuts in the state. The event is just one of a hundred fishing events happening across the state. The closest upcoming event will be in Philadelphia on June 9 at Neshoba Lake. For more information visit http://www.mdwfp.com/.