Participation trophies may have become the norm in many youth sporting events, but an upcoming fishing tournament promises otherwise.
“The ones that win, they earned it,” and participation comes with its own rewards, said Lee Freeman, organizer or the inaugural Jakes/Extreme Jakes Youth Bass Tournament.
The event is scheduled to begin at daylight on Saturday, July 23.
Youths ages 17 or younger are invited to fish anywhere (literally anywhere in Surry County and beyond, as long as the land owner has given permission) and bring their catch to Fisher River Park for a weigh-in from 11 a.m. to noon.
A designated fishing area has also been reserved at the park.
Catches are limited to three fish with a size of at least 12 inches long, and youngsters must be accompanied by an adult.
The weigh-in will be held at picnic shelter number three, with hot dogs and drinks provided to all participants.
“Everyone will be fed well and be made welcome. That’s going to happen,” Freeman said.
Trophies will be awarded for the first, second and third largest total catch from each of two classes: Jakes — up to age 12; and Extreme Jakes, ages 13 – 17.
A grand trophy will also be awarded for the largest overall fish.
“It gives them a little something to shoot for,” Freeman said of the competition. “It’s a challenge.”
Having the accomplishment acknowledged, “gives them something in life,” he said.
Those who don’t win a trophy won’t go home empty handed, Freeman assured.
“The company is great, feeding families, carrying people fishing, you’ve already won,” he said. “Every child, whether they catch a fish or not, will be talked to about the joy of fishing and learn even professional bass fishermen tell you they were once a beginner.”
Large mouth bass can be found in just about any body of water in Surry County and beyond, making bass fishing a popular sport locally.
“They’re a predator fish, very aggressive fish,” he said. “They’ll eat just about anything.”
Fish will be weighed alive then returned to the water.
For fish that don’t survive — “I would love for them to bring the fish back on ice so someone can clean and eat it,” said Freeman, who emphasizes conservation.
“I’m not teaching wrong ethics,” he said.
And outside of just fishing, “Anytime you’re getting out and spending time with friends family is always a positive,” he said.
“You have spent time with dad, mom, grandpa or a friend. You have spent good, quality time with that person.”
That’s what sticks most with Freeman about his own childhood fishing experiences.
“They are precious memories that flood my soul,” he said. “I didn’t win anything but yes I did win something. I had a good time – it’s priceless.”
The free event is hosted by the Tri County Ridgerunners, the local chapter of the National Turkey Wildlife Federation, which hosts several annual events aimed at giving members of the community opportunities to learn and enjoy conservation skills.
The fishing tournament, a new event, was planned at the suggestion of a local 17-year-old.
“This event hopefully will enlighten kids and they will pursue fishing,” he said. “If it goes well we’ll continue to do it. If not, we’ll do something else.”
For more information call or text Lee Freeman at 336-244-4430, or visit the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tricountyridgerunnersnwtf.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.