Lakecaster Online

OF BASS & GALS
By: Sue Crochet

On June 2nd, I had the pleasure of attending my first Casting Kids Contest. Assisted by the U. S. Forestry Service and the Lake Area Lady Anglers bass club, the Fort Polk Bassmasters hosted this annual event at the Blue Hole Recreation Area. Situated on Fort Polk property deep into the Kisatchie Forest, this recreation area seemed to be a perfect site for the event.

On one side of the road entering the park, there was a large pavilion, where various tables were used for registration, tallying competition score sheets and handing out goodies to the participating youngsters. Each child was required to be accompanied by an adult during registration, which included two age divisions ... 7-10 year-olds and 11-14 year-olds. Every child received a "goody bag" including a Casting Kids Magazine, free tackle and a Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery coloring book. Not one of the competitors left empty-handed!

Near the pavilion were two practice "lanes" set up with targets for kids to practice their flipping, pitching and casting skills. Once they felt confident enough, they were led to the competition lane, where they were allowed two chances at a good score in each category. The best scores in each category were added together for a total overall score. When the score sheets were tallied, each child was given a copy and a Certificate of Competition.

On the opposite side of the entrance road was a small lake (i.e. Blue Hole), where families were allowed to fish while their children/siblings were competing. Although the Casting Kids Contest was scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM, families were lined up at the park gate as early as 7:00 AM. This probably has just a little to do with the several hundred pounds of catfish placed into the lake by the U. S. Forestry Service the day before, wouldn't you agree?

Folks positioned themselves all around the lake and there was always someone "hooked up" on a catfish. Everyone was allowed to take their catch home and I'm just guessing, but it looked like some stringers weighed as much as 30#! I think it's safe to say that everyone left that day with something to show for their efforts. Additionally, U. S. Forestry Service reps handed out tickets to all the children present. Throughout the day they announced winning ticket numbers for a variety of fishing-related prizes. The children were allowed to select from items that included rods, reels, tackle boxes, fishing lures, and so on.

Competition ended at 3:00 PM and the score sheets reviewed to determine the winner for each category. Brett Hardisty of Pitkin was the proud winner of the 11-14 age group. I was very pleased to see a young lady win the 7-10 year-old division. Leah Scott of DeRidder is a fine example of the increased involvement of females in the sport of angling. You go girl! Each of them won a Zebco rod and reel combo and gold medallion for their efforts and have also qualified to fish in the state competition later.

In an age where children are bombarded by so-called technological advancements that do not encourage outdoor activity, as well as the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol abuse, these kinds of programs are so important. The Fort Polk Bassmasters is a 17-year-old BASS-affiliated organization. Although hosting a Casting Kids Contest annually is a requirement of affiliation with BASS, it was obvious that members of this club are genuinely interested in teaching kids about the sport of fishing and to become better anglers. It makes me very proud to have been a part of this year's event.

The next Fort Polk Bassmasters' Casting Kids Contest will be held on June 1, 2002. As the date draws nearer, you may contact James Bentley, District 3 Director at (337) 238-9086 or on the Internet at jbentley@wnonline.net for more details about the event. The Fort Polk Bassmasters have also asked me to announce that their next Open Tournament will be held at the Army Rec Center - Toledo Bend on October 6th. Take-off will be at "safe light", so with the changing of seasons, you'll need to make sure you're there with enough time to register, launch and prepare for take-off.


Ft. Polk Bassmaster, Fermin Montano, helping a young lady to practice.

4-Yr-Old Katy Ashworth holding an ice chest she won in the U.S. Forestry Service's ticket drawings.

Ft. Polk Bassmaster, Nate Beall, showing Jerome Scalisi IV how to use his reel.

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