Kids score 218 pounds of fish

Published 11:00 pm Monday, June 18, 2012

Written by Whitley Kilcrease
Intern with The Messenger

The lingering trail of bubbles made its way slowly to the orange cork bobbing up and down in the water. Austin Turner, 10, watched intently, waiting for the right moment to act.

“I got one!” he shouted as he watched the cork sink beneath the surface of the water. He quickly tugged at his fishing line and began hauling in what seemed to be a good-sized catch.

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However, as it got closer and closer, he began to realize it wasn’t the prize catfish he was hoping to snag. Instead, on the end of his hook dangled a very startled turtle.

That brought the day’s total to turtles-2, fish-0.

It was a sunny Saturday at Clay Hill Farms when dozens of Pike County residents gathered with their families around the catfish pond at the annual “Kid’s Fishing Day” sponsored by the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Walmart and Clay Hill Farms.

Turner wasn’t the only one to have a hungry turtle snapping on his chicken livers and wrigglers.

Despite the scavenging turtles, the 49 participants still had plenty of luck with the total weight of fish caught on coming in at 218 pounds and 14 ounces.

“We usually have a pretty good turnout,” Blake Nowling, a game warden participating with his family, said.

“Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association donated $800 and we used that to buy fishing supplies at Walmart.”

Walmart donated lunch, as well as two bicycles, to be given away as prizes to the top winners. Clay Hill Farms volunteered the location and supplied the fish.

“We started doing this at Pike County Lake about 15 years ago,” game warden Jerry Jinright said.

“Then, we started doing it here about five or six years ago.”

“The problem we had with Pike County Lake was we had to put a net out to trap the fish and once everyone stared fishing, they would all swim under the net and we couldn’t catch them.”

Makayla Johnson, 7, has been coming with her siblings to the event for a few years, but this year she caught her very first fish. And then she caught two more.

“I’ve caught three already and one of them is a big one!” she exclaimed.

“We have a lot of kids that come back every year and look forward to it year to year,” Jinright said.

The winners of the separate age categories were Brayden Nowling in the five and six year old division (11 lbs. 3 oz.), Madison Utsey in the seven through nine division (17 lbs. 7 oz.) and Todd Bradley in the category for 10 to 12 year olds (14 lbs. 11 oz.).