The town of Farragut’s Bob Watt Youth Fishing Rodeo is so popular that only one thing could’ve made it better — the cancellation of every other fun event on the calendar. The joy of being outside and with other people (who were safely six feet away) was obvious from the smiles of these young anglers.
Nobody was happier than Rylin and Raegan Curtis, ages 9 and 6. Their family arrived early to get a prime spot on the bank at Anchor Park, and within an hour, the sisters caught 12 catfish. With help from parents Ryan and Caitlin, the girls took turns ferrying their fish to the tent for weighing.
These are not novice fishers. This was the third year the family has participated in the fishing rodeo, and they fish as often as they can, Ryan says. Their choice of bait — beef liver and hot dogs — was evidence of their know-how.
The girls mostly like spending time with their dad, Caitlin said. But Rylin clearly enjoyed reeling in the big fish. When asked what she thought was the best part of fishing, she said matter-of-factly, “Catching the fish. And eating them.”
The Farragut Parks & Rec staff was equally pleased to be able to host the event with a few tweaks to make it safe. Lines were painted on the grass around the water to keep family groups separated, and two hour-long events were held at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. instead of the usual two-hour time frame. Participants also had to supply their own rods, and the kids who caught the biggest and most fish will receive prizes in the mail instead of at the traditional awards ceremony.
But at least they got to fish, and that’s what really matters.
“This is a really popular event because most kids don’t get to fish,” says event and program coordinator Brittany Spencer. “This is a good opportunity for them to do something new and get out of the house. There’s plenty of space for each family, so it’s a safe way for everyone to have a great morning of fishing.”
Preparation for the event included the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s deposit of 1,200 pounds of catfish in the Anchor Park pond, fed by Fort Loudoun Lake, the week before the event. Spencer purchased 15 dozen worms for the event, instead of the usual 25 dozen, due to the smaller number of participants. Some regulars, like the Curtis family, bring their own bait.
The weather cooperated to make the morning exceptional with lower temps and humidity, but it was still warm enough to make the catfish settle down before the 10 a.m. fishing session. The youngest anglers, like Jack Hughes, didn’t mind catching tiny bluegill. He beamed with pride as his family cheered the three miniature fish he caught with his kid-sized pole.
Even those who caught nothing but grass from the bottom of the lake left the fishing rodeo happy. After all, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day doing most anything else.
Town of Farragut public relations and marketing coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.