The late Franc White, host of the regional TV show “The Southern Sportsman,” used to end his weekly outdoors show with a fervent suggestion.
“Do yourself a favor,” he’d say with grandfatherly wisdom. “Take a kid fishing.”
Hundreds of parents and grandparents unknowingly took White’s advice Saturday by taking their children or grandchildren to Fort Stewart’s Pond No. 30 for its biannual kids fishing event.
While the kids enjoyed the struggle of reeling in catfish, the parents got to see joy on young faces.
After nearly four hours, retired soldier Willie Brown and his wife Faye were showing signs of tiring, but their son and daughter continued catching fish, so they maintained their seat in stiff-back lawn chairs.
Tre’laundria, 10, claimed to have caught most of the 14 keeper-size catfish stored in 5-gallon buckets. The Midway Middle School student said she had been fishing since 6:45 a.m.
Down the bank from the Browns, Maria Perez held a fishing rod for her youngest who was too small to hold it himself, while daughter Lillian, 7, sat on the muddy bank reeling in big ones by herself.
Every 8-10 feet along the bank of the huge pond, someone had a line in the water. In one corner, there was a casting contest for kids. Nearby, there was a large tent that held drawings to win fishing poles, T-shirts and other items.
Kylee Adkins won a new fishing rod while her dad Sgt. First Class Charles Adkins and younger siblings Karisa and Caison, waited in line to have their catfish cleaned and filleted by volunteers with the Fish and Wildlife Branch.
“We did this last year, too,” Adkins said as Karisa and Caison posed for pictures with one of the catfish they’d caught. “Kylee caught most of the fish this morning. She caught five of the 11, and she won a drawing for a new fishing pole.”
According to Bill Cooney, outdoor recreation supervisor and event coordinator with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, 2,000 catfish ranging from 12 to 14 inches long were stocked in No. 30 just for the event.
For more information about fishing on Fort Stewart, call 435-8209.