LEESBURG — The Lake County Department of Tourism & Business Relations is encouraging children, ages 12 and under, to grab a fishing pole and come out for the free Crappie Kids Fishing Rodeo on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Venetian Gardens, located at 109 E. Dixie Ave. in Leesburg.
Registration for the fishing rodeo is 8 to 9 a.m. and the tournament is scheduled for 9 to 11 a.m. Children must supply their own rod and reel and be accompanied by a parent or guardian. All entries in the rodeo receive an age-appropriate pack of various fishing tackle.
"They start fishing at 9 a.m. and they fish for any species," said Larry Crecelius, director of public relations for Crappie USA. "It's not the size of the fish, but it's by the total number of fish. The top several anglers in each age group receive prizes such as tackle boxes, rods and reels."
All entries also by signing up are entered into a contest for a $5,000 scholarship. Winners from each of the four districts for Crappie USA are announced at the final tournament in September. While the free tackle and the chance to win additional prizes and a college scholarship help attract visitors to the fishing rodeo, the aim for Crappie USA is to introduce children to sport fishing.
"It's a way to get the kids involved in something new," Crecelius said. "We get a lot of kids that have never picked up a fishing pole. This hopefully gets them interested in other things than just video games."
The Crappie USA Kids Fishing Rodeo is part of the festivities on Feb. 9 for its daylong crappie fishing tournament for amateur and professional anglers. The wildcard tournament, which allows anglers to qualify for any of Crappie USA's four district regional tournaments, begins on the Lake Harris Chain of Lakes at 6:30 a.m. Fishing ends at 3 p.m. Participants must be in the weigh-in line by 4 p.m. at Venetian Gardens.
For more information about Crappie USA, log on to www.crappieusa.com.