Caitlin, 16, Tanner, 13, and Clint Williams, 7, proudly display the bundle of fish they caught during Saturday’s Youth Fishing Rodeo at Neshoba Lake. Several hundred kids and parents attended the event.
Caitlin, 16, Tanner, 13, and Clint Williams, 7, proudly display the bundle of fish they caught during Saturday’s Youth Fishing Rodeo at Neshoba Lake. Several hundred kids and parents attended the event.
Several hundred parents and children came out to Neshoba Lake for the annual Youth Fishing Rodeo on Saturday. Various booths accompanied the fishing to create a family-friendly morning for children of all ages to enjoy.

Sherry Hazelwood of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks was on hand to run the show and handed out prizes to those who caught tagged fish and those who caught the largest fish in each age group.

"We've had so many who have limited out today," Hazelwood said. "We had a seven-fish limit, so that is a prize in itself."

While the event was a great excuse to spend some quality family time on the lake, Hazelwood said the goal of the program has a much larger message than that. It teaches children how to fish and gives them a hobby to enjoy.

"If we can keep them on the banks, we can keep them off the streets," she said. "And that's the goal of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks is to promote a good, safe, controlled event for families to come out and enjoy."

Neshoba County resident Melissa Thompson has been bringing her six-year old daughter Lillie to the youth fishing rodeos for the last few years. Thompson believes the rodeo is a great way to keep kids active.

"I wanted to expose my child to fishing and wildlife, and get outside instead of sitting in front of the TV," she said.

Thompson was excited to let her daughter experience all the rodeo had to offer this year after only visiting the entertaining booths over the last couple years.

"This is the first year that she has gotten to do the fishing and she has caught two catfish so far," she said.

It is stories like Thompson's that makes Hazelwood proud to put this event together every year. Each rodeo gives families the opportunities to come together and make lasting memories, all while enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer.

"We have given out dozens of first fish certificates," Hazelwood said. "That means that is the first fish the child has ever caught in their life, and that is creating a memory."