Outdoor Corner: Time for the East Ascension Sportsman's League Kids Rodeo

Lyle Johnson
This is what the winners circle will look like after the fishing is complete.

It’s that time of year again as the East Ascension Sportsman's League is making preparations for their annual Kids Fishing Rodeo. This nationally-known organization is putting on their premier event that might well wrap up a great summer vacation for lots of kids from all around our area.

The Kids Fishing Rodeo will take place on August 4. The Twin Lakes Mobile Estates located on Highway 74 will be the site these kids and their parents or an adult guardian gather for a great time.

As soon as the kids get out of school, talk of the Kid’s Rodeo begins amongst the Sportsman’s League and the participants as well. Usually, some reminiscing will take place. Some of it will be about past rodeos and how they turned out, good or bad. Some of it goes all the way back to those involved and when they fished rodeo when they were kids. Always mixed in is how rewarding it is to hold this five-star event and how much fun they have.

And that’s what it’s about: the kids and the memories that are created in their minds that they never forget. The celebratory screams of kids that are catching their first fish will be heard many times over. I never quite get over this phenomenon.

On my trips around the pond, some of the buckets that hold the catch range from one or two to well over a hundred fish. The number really doesn’t matter. Every kid will show off their catch to anyone who’ll look and listen. The excitement level is the same for all of them.

The rules are pretty simple. Kids must bring their own rod and reel or cane pole and must use live bait (crickets, worms, etc.). No artificial lures are allowed. Bring a bucket for the fish and a couple of chairs. Keep fish that are caught, no matter how small (sorry, no turtles or eels).

Kids must fish with only one rod and reel or cane pole. Parents may help bait the hook and cast but the kids must land the fish. Parents do not have to be EASL members for their kids to fish. And please remember that children must never be left unattended.

Registration for the rodeo begins at 6:30 a.m. and the fishing takes place from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. There are five age groups that make up the 2 through 14-year-old boy & girl divisions and plenty of trophies to go around.

While the kids are fishing, volunteers will go around the ponds with donuts to eat. Nothing tastes better than donuts early in the morning with worm dirt topping all over them. There’s probably a little fish slime mixed in as well.

When the fishing stops at 9 o'clock, the weigh-in begins. The buckets are dumped, fish are counted, and the big one of the stringer is weighed to determine the winners. During this time jambalaya, hot dogs, and Kool-Aid will be available for the participants. There’s always enough to go around for the adults, as well.

Trophies are given for the most fish and biggest fish for each age group. Our parish president, Kenny Matassa, will award trophies for the biggest fish overall and the most for a boy & girl overall.

Additionally, two bikes are given away by a drawing: one for the boys and one for the girls. Plenty of door prizes and ditty bags full of goodies will also be given away. All the festivities are over around 11 a.m. or so, depending on the size of the crowd.

The cost is absolutely nothing! You don’t even have to be a member of the East Ascension Sportsman's League. Last year's rodeo set a modern-day record for attendance with 216 participants, and we’ll be looking to top that this year. Contact Chairman Betty Lambert at 225-571-4588.

I’d like to do a little commercial now for the East Ascension Sportsman’s League, if you don’t mind. It’s been around for well-over 60 years and is one of the largest conservation groups in the state. And it is affiliated with the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.

What I’m doing is making an appeal for new members. You might ask, “There are lots of 'groups' to join and align yourself up with, so why should you join this one?” Ascension parish, as well as our state, has a great heritage for its outdoor passion. Heck, our state slogan is Sportsman’s Paradise, and there’s not a better bunch of people to join up with to help us keep that heritage alive.

The Sportsman’s League is very active in our political arena with representation in the Louisiana Wildlife Federation that helps form legislation that benefits outdoor conservation in all arenas, not just hunting and fishing. So it’s a great way to get politically involved without a lot of effort.

A $20 dollar annual membership is a great bargain as far as getting your money’s worth. For that price you get an award-winning, monthly newspaper that covers all sorts of subjects and features some of our areas best writers. Then there’s a monthly meeting that keeps you up to snuff with all the info of what’s happening within the group, along with a guest speaker that’s always very interesting. The meetings take place on the third Monday of the month at Chef KD’s on Highway 74 and are capped off with a delicious meal that only costs $3.00. That’s a bargain that Rachael Ray can’t beat!

Here’s a list of some of the activities one could participate in. There’s a big bass and big spec contest that awards a check each month and a bass club you can join. Also, there's a big buck and turkey contest where the winners get their trophies mounted. There’s a saltwater fishing rodeo you can participate in and an annual sporting clays event that helps raise funds.

Moreover, there’s a .22 Silhouette Shooting Match held on the fourth Saturday of each month from February through August and the only squirrel rodeo in existence as far as I know. One of the premier annual activities is the Kid’s Fishing Rodeo that’s been in existence for 46 years. Remember, this year's is coming up August 4 at Twin Lakes in Dutchtown. It’s free to the public, and it’s a guarantee that you can help pass on our outdoors’ heritage by bringing some kids to fish at this event.

The East Ascension Sportsman's League is a great organization that you can only have if you have great people, and it’s a really neat bunch to hang around with. You can get all the scoop by logging on to www.easlonline.org. Right in the middle of the home page there’s a link that says, “Learn more about EASL and find out how to become a member.” Click on that link and find out all you need to know about us!

Until next time, keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is President of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association.