Reel Adventure: Kids compete in annual Youth Fishing Rodeo

Air Force Capt. Ben Smith of the 32nd Intelligence Squadron watches his son Logan, 7, fish as his wife, Tabatha, lends a hand to their 5-year-old daughter Audrey at Fort Meade's popular Youth Fishing Rodeo held Sept. 17, 2016, at Burba Lake. (Photo by Nate Pesce)

When Candace Johnson and her husband, Spc. Jarvis Johnson of the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion, were children, they went fishing with family members.

“It was a good pastime activity for us,” Johnson said.

So Saturday morning, the couple took their 7-year-old daughter Naomi to Fort Meade’s annual Youth Fishing Rodeo at Burba Lake.

“We want to give her this experience,” Johnson said. “It will be something to add to her memories.”

The Johnsons were among the 60 participants at the Youth Fishing Rodeo, sponsored every spring and fall by the Meade Rod & Gun Club and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

The Meade Rod & Gun Club is a social club that seeks to further club members’ skills in fishing, firearms, hunting, archery and competition, and educates them in the safe handling and care of all equipment. The club also provides opportunities for fishing, firearms, hunting, archery and competition.

The fishing rodeo provides families with an occasion to teach children the basics of fishing and to enjoy the outdoors, said Rodney Bagley, president of the Meade Rod & Gun Club.

“I think it’s a great event,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to do something interactive that’s good for the whole family.”

Retired Air Force Col. Glenn Altschuld, the club’s representative to the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore, said the fishing rodeo also builds memories for families.

“Fishing really isn’t about fishing. It’s about spending time with someone you care about,” he said.

In the spring, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources stocked Burba Lake with bass, trout and bluegill to prepare for the competition.

Fishing gear and bait were available to participants if needed. Beverages, hot dogs and chips were offered at a small cost by the club.

Forty children were registered to participate in the fishing rodeo, which holds competitions in three age categories for the biggest and smallest fish (weighed in grams) caught during the five-hour event: ages 3 to 6; ages 7 to 11; and ages 12 to 15.

At the end of the event, club members weighed the catches of each of the participants and awarded first-, second- and third-place prizes to the winners in each category.

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and his 11-year-old daughter Sarah came to the event to spend quality time together.

“I enjoy fishing and the fact that I get to do it with my dad,” Sarah said.

Rickard, who stopped by the fishing rodeo after running in the Fanfare 5K Run earlier in the morning, said he always tries to spend time with his family after he returns from a deployment. The colonel said he returned from a deployment to Afghanistan three months ago.

“We like to fish,” said Rickard, noting that he is “an avid sportsman” and enjoys hunting and fishing. “This is a great opportunity to come together as a family. … I’m very impressed with the way they’ve taken care of the lake.”

Odenton resident Nikki Yapi came to the event with her two sons Emmanuel, 12, and Nicholas, 5.

“It’s a nice day to spend as a family and do something locally, just for the experience,” said Yapi, who works as a child advocate.

“I like how you catch a fish and get excited,” Emmanuel said. “And you’re learning the skills to catch a fish. It’s fun and relaxing.”

Air Force Capt. Ben Smith of the 32nd Intelligence Squadron showed his son 7-year-old son Logan how to cast a line.

“We just wanted to make memories with the kids,” said Smith, as he watched Logan eagerly await a catch. “It’s good to spend time outside, enjoying nature and having a good time.”

Smith’s wife, Tabatha, said Logan and their 5-year-old daughter Audrey have fished with their grandfather and loved it.

“It’s our first time as a family fishing,” she said.

Retired Gunnery Sgt. Patrick Mullen, an intelligence specialist with the Department of Homeland Security, came with his two sons, Levi, 9, and P.J., 7.

“This is a good recreational activity,” Mullen said. “Every child should learn how to fish, especially boys.”

Levi said he wanted to come to see if he could make a catch.

“I wanted to test my skills to see if I could catch a big fish,” he said.

P.J. said he caught a small fish.

“I like fish,” the youngster said. “They have different colors.”

Taking a break, Mullen sat in a lawn chair by the lake and put bait on a fishing rod.

“It’s good to get away from the computer games,” he said. “This is wholesome entertainment.”

FISHING RODEO RESULTS

Age group: 3-6

Ethan Kidd: 135-gram bass

Ezra Silkworth: 125-gram bluegill

Daniel Butarbutar: 115-gram bluegill

Age Group: 7-11

Payton McMullen: 175-gram bass

Jerry Berniero: 170-gram redear sunfish

Tie

Elisha Silkworth: 110-gram bluegill

Jacob Stafford: 110-gram bluegill

Age Group: 12-15

Tessa Mastbergen: 85-gram bluegill

Largest Fish

Payton (P.J.) McMullen: 175-gram bass

Smallest fish

Thomas Nelson: 90-gram bluegill

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