Keeping kids hooked on fish, not drugs for 34 years

There were no Bill Dance or Hank Parker’s along the banks, but what there were wide eyes, open mouths and shrieks of joy. I spent a couple of hours on Saturday morning along Kincaid Lake enjoying the scenes at the Joey Wells Kid Tournament. I knew right away when I pulled into the lot it was a big event as I could see a long line of people along the shore.
    The weather was perfect: a little overcast, no humidity, just right to sit on the bank hoping for the big one to bite. All up and down the bank, the kids sat, stood, and knelt, watching bobbers of red, white, and orange float on the current. I did notice that standing near or behind these young anglers was not always safe as the littlest of them gave hard pulls at the first sign of a nibble, whipping their rod through the air and backwards trying to set the hook.
    Parents stood talking to one another, some being family or friends while others were just meeting for the first time. Up at the Bassmasters table ,I’m pretty sure there was the swapping of the “Big One” stories as they fixed hot dogs and drinks for all the kids.
    There were a lot of kids, over 90 in total--boys and girls and even a few grandmas fishing. It was just an all round positive family environment. As I walked up and down the bank, I could hear the dads explain how to cast or a mom telling her child to stand still while she took a fish off the hook.
    At the end of the day, all the competitors made a long line, holding their daily catch in five gallon buckets or on stringers, waiting their turn to step to the scales have their names called and be weighed in.
    The crowd gathered all around after the weigh-in, anticipating the final winners. First the drawings were for the three bikes as three lucky kids rode out of Kincaid Park, each with a new set of wheels.
    Trophies were then handed out to the lucky ones who brought in the big lunkers, or the most, in each division. Pictures were taken as smiles and hugs were given while some in the youngest division danced around, shouting.
    I would have to say the Joey Wells Fishing Tournament was a success. I believe it would have been a success even if not one fish was caught. What was caught in abundance today was more important...memories.