Dig out the fishing poles and tackle boxes for Christian County's 20th annual Take Kids Fishing Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Jeffers Bend Environmental Center, 1000 Metcalfe Lane.
Cost is $3 per person. Youth ages 3 to 15 are welcome. All youth must be accompanied by an adult. Military and first-responder families with ID will receive free admission. Entrance to the event includes a hotdog lunch with chips and a bottled water.
"It's a good way to get outdoors," said Robin Charles, Jeffers Bend publicity chairwoman. "A lot of the kids have never been fishing before. So many nowadays are inside, on the computer, playing with their phone or in front of the television ... this is a great opportunity to get back to nature. There are so many things to do outside."
This week, Jeffers Bend staff will be stocking the center's waterways with fish for the event. Prizes will be awarded to youth who catch the biggest and smallest fish in their age category. "Big Jeff," the biggest catfish in the lake or river, also will return this year, Charles said. For the first time since 1999, "Big Jeff" was caught during last year's Take Kids Fishing Day.
This year another prize will be offered.
"We have a surprise. Since it is our 20th anniversary, we also will have a special fish that will be tagged. If anyone catches that fish they will automatically win $100 that day," Charles said.
There also will be reeling and casting competitions.
While the center will provide the bait and guides to help young fishers bait their hook, guests are asked to bring their own fishing poles. For those who do not own a fishing pole, the center has a few to loan out to event-goers.
"(Take Kids Fishing Day) has been really great for the community and the children. This is a good opportunity to bring families together and get them outdoors," she said.
The first year the center hosted the event, about 650 youth participated.
"That was a big deal back then to have that many people attend ... from that point we decided to try it again, and here we are 20 years later and we are still going strong," Charles said.
This year, about 1,200 youth are expected to attend. At most, over the years, 1,500 children have fished during the event, she said.
Since its inception in Christian County, Take Kids Fishing Day events have spread to other communities such as Cadiz and Dawson Springs. Their programs are patterned after Christian County's, Charles said.
Take Kids Fishing Day is the one day out of the year fishing licenses are not required to fish at Jeffers Bend, Charles said. Although adults are welcome to fish during the event, prizes are reserved for participating youth, she said.
Reach Mari-Alice Jasper at 270-887-3262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.