Students catch fish and earn trophies at the 2018 Kiwanis Fishing Rodeo

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

While Thursday started out dark and rainy, the storm clouds cleared just in time for the Kiwanis’ annual Fishing Rodeo.

Nearly 60 special needs students from the Pearl River County school district came to the Pearl River Baptist Association’s pond for a day of fishing with the Kiwanis Club. Students lined the banks of the pond, poles in hand and ready to catch fish.

The event began with Bass Assassins coach Guy Stegall, calling everyone together to pray over the event and tell students and volunteers to be safe and to have a good time. Before dismissing the students to start fishing, Stegall mentioned that there would be prizes for those who caught the biggest fish. The students all clapped and cheered and rushed to find a pole, determined to be the day’s winner.

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The Bass Assassin’s club provided the event with live bait, which was placed in buckets here and there around the pond. Volunteers helped students bait their hooks and cast their lines. Several volunteers even waded out into the pond so the line could reach deeper waters. Once a fish was hooked, the volunteer would hand the pole over to their student so they could finish reeling it in.

Student Jaiyah Monerobinson said this year was her first to attend the fishing event. Just thirty minutes after the rodeo started, she said she had already caught two fish.

Once a fish was caught, Stegall would weigh the catch and take a note of the student’s name and size of the fish. At the end of the event, the students with the biggest fish won trophies and prizes, including fishing rods, tackle boxes and other small trinkets.

The Bass Assassins team members include high school students from Pearl River County, Picayune and Poplarville school districts. Stegall said his team members have been volunteering with the event ever since the team was formed five years ago. Since Stegall’s father was a member of the Kiwanis club, Stegall said he wanted to find a way to get his team members involved.

“This teaches them community service. It’s not just about fishing,” Stegall said.

In addition to the fishing team, PRC Key Club members also helped with the event. PRC Student Support Coordinator Morgan Cruse said the Key Club and the Kiwanis Club are both international organizations that focus on helping special needs communities. She said the PRC School’s Key Club helps with all of the Kiwanis’ events, including the Fishing Rodeo and the Special Olympics.

Key Club member Connor Ryder said he got involved with the club at the beginning of the year, right after moving to Carriere. He said he wanted to join the club since it was so service-oriented, and he believes that everyone should do their part to help the community.