PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A record number of kids from across South Mississippi showed up Saturday morning to participate in the 8th annual Casting for Conservation fishing rodeo at the Beach Park and Pier in Pascagoula.
Sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association of Mississippi and the City of Pascagoula, the event drew young anglers from Harrison and Jackson Counties and from the Mobile, AL, area, too.
The rodeo, open to kids ages five to 13, began with a free registration at 8 a.m. According to CCA Mississippi Executive Director Johnny Marquez, the kids were in line before registration began.
"We have drawn 100 kids or more over the last couple of years," Marquez said. "This was the most we've ever had for this event. We are up more than 50 percent, and that's good and bad. We hoped to have enough free rods and reels for everyone, but we ran out at 175. We say the rodeo is for kids between five and 13, but we had a good number of three and four-year-olds show up with their parents, and that's fine. The good is the level of interest was great, and getting kids involved in fishing and educating them on conservation is what this event is all about."
The rodeo featured free bait, T-shirts and lunch to all anglers.
Also on hand was the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources offering brochures on regulations and size limits along with a fish display featuring a variety of fish ranging from sharks to alligator gar.
"This is an opportunity for the kids to see that we are focused on marine resources and enhancing it for everyone to enjoy," DMR Marine Fisheries Technician Jeff Grant said. "This is our way to help educate the public, especially the kids."
Species of fish caught included white trout, stingray, pinfish, croaker and flounder.
"It was a great day," Marquez said. "We (CCA) enjoy this as much as the kids do."