DUTCHTOWN — Lexi Cambre, 6, used a worm to catch the biggest fish caught in Saturday’s East Ascension Sportsman’s League Kids’ Fishing Rodeo.
“Look, I caught the biggest one in the bucket,” Cambre said as her .68-pound catfish was dumped into the large hamper filled with the day’s catch of more than half of the 211 children registered.
Cambre waited around the bucket to see if anyone else caught a larger fish.
They didn’t, and she won the overall prize for having the largest catch of the day.
Wesley Johnson, chairman of the annual event, said this year’s turnout was just shy of last year’s record of 214.
“We don’t have records from every one of the 50 events we’ve had, but I’ve fished them for more than 25 years and this is one of the best crowds we’ve had,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who fished the event as a child with his dad, said the family event draws generations of families carrying on the tradition of fishing together.
“One dad told me his child picked out clothes to wear for the rodeo two weeks ago,” Johnson said.
One just had to look around the Twin Lakes Mobile Home Park lakes to see the community’s dedication to the event.
Michael Mitcham and his 5-year-old grandson Brennen VanSickle arrived two hours early to check out the lake’s conditions.
“We saw a lot of active bass early this morning,” Mitcham said. The event started at 7 a.m.
“He’s a real fisherman,” Mitcham said, pointing to his grandson, who lives in French Settlement.
Brennen was fishing with the pole he won at last year’s rodeo.
“He’s got the fever,” Mitcham said. “He watches ‘Bassmasters’ regularly.”
Brennen caught eight fish in 45 minutes of the two-hour event.
Elizabeth Kennison, 8, was trying to beat her 56-fish record from last year. Elizabeth was using a cane pole to catch her fish.
While she didn’t surpass her record, the 21 fish she did catch won a prize for catching the most of any girl in her age group.
Kennison and the children entered in the contest stood in a long line after the 9 a.m. deadline came.
The catch is weighed on a digital scale and placed in hampers. Some of the larger fish are eaten, but most will be discarded.
“It’s good pond management,” said Warren Hebert, a volunteer with the East Ascension Sportsman League.
“Yes, you could say they’re going to waste, but they’re really not,” Hebert said.
He said that by catching and discarding the smaller fish in the pond once a year, the larger fish “have less competition for food and can get bigger.”
After fish totals are recorded into computers, the children gather around for the results. While they wait, the children enjoy free hot dogs and jambalaya.
Johnson said that despite the economy, local businesses donated generously this year.
Other winners included:
Most fish, girls: Mikaylah Bordelon (41)
Most fish, boys: Tyler Williams (51)
Ages 2-4 division
Most fish, girls: Carlyle Runfalo
Most fish, boys: Kace Poche
Biggest fish: Halee Cambre
Ages 5-7 division
Most fish, girls: Sydney Williams
Most fish, boys: Caden Carnaggio
Biggest fish: Kyler Broussard
Most fish, boys: Grant Bourque
Biggest fish: Brayden Carter
Most fish, Girls: Haley Fontenot
Most fish, Boys: Dustin Decoteau
Biggest fish: Brant Smiley