D.A.R.E. Youth Fishing Tournament brings families together

Published 12:04 am Sunday, September 30, 2007

NATCHEZ — Nearly 600 children ages 2 to 18 woke up at the crack of dawn to dip their hooks in the area lakes and rivers in hopes of reeling in a big fish for the 17th annual Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office/ Miss-Lou Merchants D.A.R.E. Youth Fishing Tournament.

“This has been a great day,” Concordia Sheriff Randy Maxwell said. “This is a great way for families to get together and have fun.”

Participants were allowed to fish on Lake Concordia, Lake St. John, Old River, Vidalia Old River, Deer Park, the Natchez State Park Lake and Black River Lake or Four Rivers at Jonesville.

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Tristan Nolan, 10, of Vidalia hauled in a 15.6-pound catfish taken out of the Black River.

“This is the biggest fish I ever caught,” Nolan said. “It felt great when I got him on the bank.”

Nolan caught the monster fish using fish guts for bait, his father Rob Nolan said.

“I had to hold him by his belt loops while he was reeling it in,” Rob said. “I think I was more excited than he was.”

Tristan took the first-place trophy for the largest fish caught in his age group.

Families from as far off as Denham Springs such as Michelle Meier and her three boys happened to hear about the tournament and joined in.

Her son Cameron Meier, 6, caught 6 pound, 4 ounce, bass out of the Natchez State Park Lake.

“I had to reel it in fast,” Cameron said. “I knew it was a big one because it made big splashes.”

Everyone received a participation trophy, a rod and reel, T-shirt and a book from the Concordia Parish Library as prizes.

“We’ve been doing this for about four to five years now,” Concordia Parish Library Director Amanda Taylor said. “We give out hundreds of books. It’s a good way to promote reading to young children.”

The young fishermen and ladies, capped off their day with free food and a big weigh-in at the River View RV Park on the Vidalia Riverfront.

“I want to thank all the sponsors and families for their participation,” Maxwell said. “This year’s event has been great.”