This article was posted in SoundOff on April 11, 2019 by Jack Chavez.
The most fundamental objective of the Meade Rod and Gun Club’s annual Spring Youth Fishing Rodeo is to catch the biggest fish.
But when asked, club members say the event serves a bigger purpose: to strengthen the bonds within the Fort Meade community through a shared passion.
With families and friends cheering them on, about 100 participants took to the shoreline of Burba Lake on Saturday morning for the club’s 2019 fishing rodeo, vying for the day’s biggest catch.
Children ages 3 to 15 years old were eligible to participate.
“It’s something that we give back to the community,” club president John Parks said of the event, which the Meade Rod and Gun Club has sponsored for 20 years.
“Fishing is more about being with people than trying to catch fish. It’s an experience.”
The event was officially slotted from 8 a.m. to noon, but club event planner Charisma Wooten said some participants were on the lake as early as 7 a.m.
“[This is about] bringing families together and giving them an opportunity to make memories,” Wooten said.
Trophies were handed out for the largest and smallest fish caught, as well as the top-three largest fish in three age brackets: 3 to 6, 7 to 11 and 12 to 15.
Fish were measured in weight by grams. Only children ages 3 to 6 were eligible for the smallest-fish trophy.
In preparation for the event, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources stocked the lake with rainbow trout and golden rainbow trout. But young anglers also reeled in largemouth bass, redear sunfish and bluegill.
The biggest catch of the day went to 9-year-old Howard County resident Riley Moore, who landed a largemouth bass weighing 1,094 grams, or about 2.4 pounds.
“It feels amazing [to win],” Riley said. “It was heavy. My dad helped me reel it in because it was hard to pull it up.”
The fishing rodeo featured a mix of first-timers and returning competitors.
For some parents, fishing is a way to keep family traditions alive.
Six-year-old Joah Blalock, who attends West Meade Early Education Center, used the same rod with which his grandfather taught Joah’s dad, Navy Chief Petty Officer Matt Blalock.
“That pole is the same pole that myself and my brother used when we were [Joah’s] age,” said Blalock of Cyber Strike Activity 63.
“It’s good to have some bonding time. It’s about the patience — patience versus reward. And you can have a little fun, get some experience.”
For Walter Reed Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Derek Clarno, bringing 5-year-old daughter Alora to the lake reminded him of weekends spent with his father.
“Growing up with split parents, I spent my weekends with dad,” Clarno said. “We spent the majority of our summertime going out and fishing.”
The value of the experience wasn’t lost on Alora, who placed first in the ages 3 to 6 bracket last year.
“I like to fish with my daddy,” the West Meade Early Education Center student said. “It’s really fun.”
Other parents used the fishing rodeo to bond with their children over a lifelong passion.
Rio Demerin, a telecommunications specialist at the Network Enterprise Center on Fort Meade, grew up as an active saltwater fisherman on Kaua’i, the fourth-largest Hawaiian island. He called fishing a hobby for the most part, but it was also a way to put food on the table for his family.
Demerin sat along Burba Lake with his wife, Hyojung Kim, as their 4-year-old daughter Yu Jin repeatedly cast her tiny rod into the lake.
Demerin said he simply enjoyed sharing one of his favorite ways to have fun with his daughter.
“She just enjoys coming out, playing with the worms,” he said. “As long as she likes coming out here, [I’ll take her].”
Yu Jin placed third in the ages 3 to 6 bracket last year.
Jessie Moore, Riley’s father, said that she and her 11-year-old brother Malik, who also fished on Saturday, have each had a rod in their hand since they were just 1 year old.
A professional angler married to Air Force Maj. Marquita Moore, Jessie Moore said he takes 35 to 40 fishing trips annually around the country.
Saturday was his daughter’s first entry into the fishing rodeo.
“We’ll definitely do it again next year,” he said.
Whether a child was picking up a rod for the first time or the 100th time, event volunteers often said the joy on the faces of the children and the enthusiasm they showed were priceless aspects of the popular community event.
“We like helping the kids,” said retired Army Sgt. Linwood J. Smith, a club member. “They were lined up at 8 this morning.
“It’s really good to see the kids get out there and get a chance to fish.”
Age group 3 to 6 years old:
Bradon Wayne, first place: redear sunfish, 350 grams
Danvor Williams, second place: rainbow trout, 315 grams
Ruaridh Wayne, third place: largemouth bass, 230 grams.
Age group 7 to 11 years old:
Riley Moore, first place: largemouth bass, 1,094 grams
Malik Booze, second place: rainbow trout, 585 grams
Emma Spragg, third place: largemouth bass, 365 grams
Age group 12 to 15 years old:
Ryan Lee, first place: rainbow trout, 280 grams
Alexander Roz, second place: bluegill, 160 grams
Smallest fish: Gunner Hatfield, bluegill, 160 grams