Roger Jones Jr. beamed almost as bright as the sunshine peeking through the gray clouds Saturday morning as he held up the small catfish he caught.
The 6-year-old was one of 77 children casting lines with their families at the catfish pond at Augusta Technical College for the Breakfast Optimist Club’s 26th annual Kids Fishing Rodeo.
His father, Roger Jones Sr., and others snapped pictures of Roger as he proudly displayed his catch.
It wasn’t the first time he’s been fishing, his dad said, but “this is the first time he’s ever caught one by himself.”
After the pictures, Roger scampered back to his spot on the bank to try to catch another one.
The fishing event is the club’s biggest community project every year, vice president Sam Johnson said.
The event has been held at Augusta Tech for years. The pond, which is stocked each year with catfish, is normally off-limits for fishing. Recent rains made fishing a little tougher, but most children caught at least one.
“It’s kind of muddy today. They’re not biting like they usually do,” Johnson said.
It didn’t down slow Kamryn Parrish, who had caught four fish by 10 a.m. She came with her parents, siblings, cousins and grandparents.
Kamryn’s brother, Carson, had not caught anything by the halfway point Saturday, but he said he recently caught a stingray and almost caught a bull shark at Tybee Island.
“It’s harder in the lake than it is in the ocean. It’s like I’m better at ocean water than I am at lake water,” he said.
Bryson Gladney, 11, caught his first fish at the rodeo five years ago and has been coming back with his mother, Lynn Gladney, ever since.
“I thought it was cool because I’d never caught a fish,” he said.
Lynn Gladney doesn’t fish but comes because her son enjoys it so much. This year they brought Lynn’s boyfriend, Trevor Coleman, and Bryson’s friend Tederell Johnson II, 9.
“It’s exciting, but you have to be careful because your lines will get stuck, and you have to watch out so you don’t fall in,” Tederell said.