Kids go casting, catching

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 25, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

As the summer months come rolling into Suffolk, and takes the school year out with it, head over to Sleepy Hole Park one bright weekend morning. You might see local kids like Chad Stebenrauch, Kadarius Woodley and Deandra Bazemore at the banks of the Nansemond River in the park, trying to hook the big one.

&uot;This is my first time fishing,&uot; said Chad, 8, at the Third Annual Youth Fishing Day on Saturday. &uot;I can swing the bait really well. I’m going to catch a bunch of fish!&uot;

Email newsletter signup

They were three of dozens who took their first steps toward &uot;fishermanhood&uot; at the event, put on by the Great Dismal Swamp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Virginia Department of Game and Fishing, and, of course, the city of Suffolk.

It took Deandra about an hour to bring up her first catch. &uot;I was excited about the first one I ever caught,&uot; said the Kilby Shores Elementary School student. &uot;I went back out and tried for another one, because I want a bigger one!&uot;

Kadarius had a tough time getting started. &uot;I learned to cast the line, and how to put bait on the hook,&uot; she said. &uot;It wasn’t fun at first, but it is now. I thought this was going to be fun, and it is.&uot;

Putting one’s hands near a pile of small, slimy nightcrawlers wasn’t exactly the brightest time of the day for anyone, laughed Chip Long of the Game and Fishing Department. &uot;But they look really good to the fish!&uot; he said, cutting the creepy-crawlies into sizable prey. &uot;Fish like worms in general, and they gravitate toward moist ground.&uot;

&uot;We don’t have a place in the Swamp for something like this, so we decided to come out here,&uot; said Great Dismal Swamp representative Julie Rowand. &uot;This gets kids away from the television, and gives them something to do.&uot; The kids met more wildlife than just those of the undersea world; several Canadian geese and mallards flew in to visit, and someone hooked a snapping turtle.

Casting (the act of gunning one’s line far into the water and reeling it in to create the illusion of a worm on an escape route) was the toughest thing to teach, said Bryan Poovey of Fish and Wildlife. &uot;There’s a knack to it,&uot; he said. &uot;You have to push the button that releases the line on the reel, and let it go as your arm comes forward. The kids do OK – once they do it, they don’t want to leave the bait in the water; they want to reel it back in and cast it out again!&uot;