Fish. Fish. And more fish.
One thousand pounds of live catfish will be dumped into the river in Stephenville City Park before hundreds of young people converge and take part in fishing activities Saturday at the 6th Annual Fish Day in the Park.
T-shirts will be given out to the first 200 children who participate in the event, which is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. until noon tomorrow.
“The big thing - everything is free. There’s no cost when you come down there,” said Jerry Land, secretary-treasurer for the Stephenville Bass Club.
The local bass club is co-coordinating the event with the Stephenville Parks and Recreation Department (SPARD).
Brenda Brown, of SPARD, said the event is open to children age 15 and younger.
Land said most of the catfish will weigh about 1.5 pounds, but larger catfish will also be placed in the river, along with possibly having 20 albino "channel cats" included in the bunch.
"Whoever catches one of them (albino fish) will win a free rod and reel," Land said.
Other prizes, such as fishing lures, sinkers and hooks, will also be made available for participants to win.
A new attraction at the event - the "Bass Tub" - will feature Oklahoma fisherman Jason Reynolds doing demonstrations from a boat mounted on a massive, nearly 5,000-gallon aquarium.
"There will be a man there catching fish and showing techniques," Brown said.
Onlookers will be able to watch fish being caught because the aquarium has glass sides.
"I hope everybody will come see it," Land said. "I think a lot of people will come to just see the tank."
During every one of Reynolds’ shows Saturday, one of the children will be called up to fish, and prizes will be given away during each show, Land said.
Coach D’Anna Green’s Outdoor Adventure Class at Stephenville High School and the Stephenville Bass Club are co-sponsoring the demonstrations, he said.
Also Saturday, the Texas Game Warden Association will have their "Hall of Shame" trailer on hand, featuring examples of illegally caught fish and animals and the penalties each of the culprits faced for violating the law.
Eight to 10 game wardens will be on hand to assist those who are fishing. A trailer filled with 250 rod and reels will also be open to "furnish any kid" with needs fishing equipment. Bait will also be provided, Land said.
"Tell anybody who needs us to just holler at us," Land said.
"They can bring their own equipment - or we have a limited supply of stuff that they can borrow," Brown said.
The event has also added a contest for children between eight and 14 years of age. Participants in the "casting, pitching and flipping contest" will try to hit fishing targets at three different distances. Two participants in each age group (8-11 and 11-14) with the most points will receive a medal and a rod and reel and be eligible to go to a state competition.
"If they win there (state), they could go to the national competition," Land said, noting national winners could win college scholarships.
Finally a hot dog lunch, which will start around noon, will be served to "all the kids and their parents," Land said.
"In the past, we’ve cooked about 600 hot dogs and furnished the chips and cookies," Land said, noting that there will be "several buckets of ice water set up" for those on hand to drink.
Event sponsors include the Texas Game Warden Association, Stephenville Bass Club, SPARD, Ladies Auxiliary Post 9181, Knights of Pythias, Poston Feed Mill, Flamingo Bingo, Wal-Mart and SHS Outdoor Adventure Class.
DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.