Reel Good Time; Youngsters gather at Burba Park for fishing Rodeo

Emery Mackin, 7, shows off her largemouth bass, which took first place in the category for children ages 7 to 11. (Photos by Phil Grout)

Twenty children from the East Friendship Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., traveled with several church ministers to Burba Lake on Saturday morning to fish and spend time in fellowship with each other.

Anthony Brown, the church’s youth minister, organized the trip to participate in the Meade Rod & Gun Club’s annual Spring Fishing Rodeo. The five-hour event is co-sponsored by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“It’s a secure environment and a way to have clean, innocent fun,” Brown said. “They can fellowship together and just be kids with no cellphones, play stations or Xboxes.”

Christopher Beger uses a pair of pliers to show off his prize bass. The 5-year-old later found out that the bass was the biggest fish caught all morning.

The church members were among 60 children who attended the event, which is also offered every fall.

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

The fishing rodeo provides families with an opportunity to spend quality time together, create happy memories and learn an appreciation for fishing, said John Parks, president of the Meade Rod & Gun Club.

“People are having a good time,” he said.

To prepare for the competition, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources stocked Burba Lake with bass, bluegill, sunfish and pumpkinseed.

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

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen said he came to the rodeo to support the community.

“Every child here is out fishing and learning an appreciation for the sport,” Cullen said. “I’m glad to see they’re all having fun. It was a good day for the event and a great success.”

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

This year, there were no participants in the 12 to 15 age group.

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 the two categories, and for the overall biggest and smallest fish.

Navy Cmdr. Grant Watanbe of the Navy Installation’s Command in Washington, D.C., said he brought his two children Nia, 4, and Kian, 5, because the weather was great and they wanted to get out the house.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “If it wasn’t for this event, we’d be in the house watching TV or glued to an iPad. This is much more fun.”

Simone Carter, wife of Staff Sgt. Marcus Carter, said the fishing rodeo gives her the opportunity to spend quality time with her 10-year-old twin sons Mason and Spencer,

“It gives us time to bond,” the Meuse Forest resident said. “It also teaches them a bit of patience and humility when they don’t catch a fish.”

Mason said he started fishing with his grandparents who live in Liberty County, Ga.

“Grandma cooks the fish and we eat grits and biscuits,” he said. “I like catching fish and eating it.”

Spencer said he tries to imagine who will catch the biggest fish — Mason or him.

“It’s fun,” Spencer said. “We get to hang out and have an adventure.”

Staff Sgt. Doug Mackin of the 34th Intelligence Squadron came with his 7-year-old daughter Emery, who won in her category.

“We enjoy fishing.” he said. “It’s good to get outside.”

Mackin said the fishing rodeos are an essential part of life at Fort Meade

“You can see a lot of families come out and have fun to get away from the electronics [at home],” Mackin said. “An event like this is very important.”

Fishing Rodeo Winners

Category – Ages 3 to 6:

First Place: Christopher Berger: Largemouth Bass (490 grams)

Second Place: Saphira Urbanik: Largemouth Bass (395 grams)

Third Place: Bradon Wayne Redear: Sunfish (260 grams)

Category – Ages 7 to 11:

First Place: Emery Mackin: Largemouth Bass (375 grams)

Second Place: Sean Roque: Largemouth Bass (155 grams)

Third Place: Layla Roz Redear: Sunfish (45 grams)

Category – Ages 12 to 15:

No fish were checked in.

Prize for Smallest Fish (Ages 3 to 6 only):

Cylus Tossie: Bluegill (70 grams)

Prize for Largest Fish (Overall):

Christopher Beger: Largemouth Bass (490 grams)

Note: 453 grams equals one pound.

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