Thirty-five kids from the Claremont Boys and Girls Club lined the bank of Lake Norman waiting for their bobbers to disappear under the water.
Volunteers were nearby to help bait hooks, help cast wiggling worms to the best spots, untangle lines and hopefully to help land the big whoppers.
All fish, bushes and trees were released unharmed.
Happy, excited voices yelled, "I got one, I got one!"
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The Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists, Midway Marina Bait and Tackle and The Boathouse Grill teamed up with Bob Bauer, Mark Lancaster, 18 volunteers, youth mentors and three local fishing guides to put on the first Lake Norman Clean Cast for Kids Fishing Tournament at Midway Marina last Thursday.
This was the first of four events planned this summer. Stutts Marina and Lake Norman Marina are the sites for the next two, and a championship fishing derby will be held for winners of the first three events. Bob Bauer is involved in the Bass Federation and the Southfork Junior Bassmasters and is youth director for the N.C. BASS Federation Nation. He works tirelessly to promote bass fishing for kids.
At Thursday's event, Devon Lee was so excited when a largemouth bass hit his worm and yanked his bobber out of sight. The smile on his face couldn't have been any bigger. Bob Patrick, a volunteer from the Balls Creek Bassmasters Club, deftly handled the landing net to haul the fish in for weighing. It weighed 2 pounds 8 1/2 ounces..
The Boathouse Grill dining room filled with smiles and laughter as the kids shared fishing stories about the ones that got away as they wolfed down hot dogs, burgers and fries. After lunch, the fishing didn't seem quite as serious, as the kids squashed worms, examined a dried-up bass head and played in the water. Every time someone brought a fish to the scale, kids wanted to touch and feel the fish.
Almost everyone caught a fish, and they all had fun. Hourly prizes were awarded for the largest fish in four categories.
Ivey Huffman, 9, from Conover, was the angler of the day, and weighed four fish. Her 1pound 7ounce channel catfish won the catfish category, and she took home a new rod and reel.
Devon Lee's big bass easily won the bass division.
What a day.