June 12, 2014 --
Hundreds of youth, parents and grandparents lined the perimeter of Covella Pond and waited in anticipation for the “go-ahead” announcement, signifying the official opening of the fishing season, here, June 7.
The installation’s annual Buddy Fishing Tournament drew a crowd of more than 300 fishermen, including anglers as young as 2 years old.
Prior to the event’s kick off at 8 a.m., many participants had already formed a line, completed their registration paperwork and claimed their position around the pond well in advance of the announcement.
From the word “go,” and within seconds after hearing weighted lines hitting the water, the sounds of excited young voices could be randomly heard echoing across Boyett Park, “I got one, I got one.”
The fish were hungry, and the littlest fishing buddies were eager to accommodate their appetites.
Anthony Wade, operations and plans specialist, Operations and Training Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, volunteered as a mentor for his neighbor’s 12-year-old son, who he brought to the tournament.
“Buddy Fishing Tournament is a place where you can bring an individual and be a positive role model,” Wade said. “Whether it is a learning environment or (wherever you chose). That’s what I was trying to do – to be a positive influence in this young man’s life.”
Wade shared his opinion of the impact the event had on his little buddy.
“I think he had an awesome time,” Wade said. “He was certainly excited about it when I brought it up to him. When I was speaking to (my fishing buddy), he said he didn’t get a wink of sleep the night before. So, he was very, very excited about coming out and afterwards, he was very glad that he did.”
Aaron Johnson, a supply technician, Retail Support, Distribution Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, brought his 6-year old son, Jeremiah, to the tournament.
“The Buddy Fishing Tournament is something I look forward to every year,” Johnson, a supply technician, Retail Support, Distribution Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, said. “The first time I took my oldest son, he was more interested in running around and chasing the ducks. He wasn't much of a fisherman back then.
“My youngest son has (proven) to be more of a patient fisherman at the same age,” Johnson added, comparing the differences in the experiences between his sons. “(Jeremiah) focused on and studied the fishing pole and how it is used. His studying paid off (and led to) him catching his very first fish (in) his life. What made it all the more special is (the fact) that my 6-year-old is diagnosed with autistic pervasive developmental disorder.”
According to Julie Robbins, natural resources manager, Installation and Environmental Division, MCLB Albany, the base participates with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources fishing program for children.
“The DNR stocks the pond with about 1,000 channel catfish,” Robbins said. “After we grow them up to size, we invite the community out to help us catch them. The base tries to host the event every year. This year marks the 26th annual Buddy Fishing Tournament.
“The children have a blast,” Robbins added. “They’re catching fish ranging (in size) from eight inches all the way up to maybe 15 inches or more. Kids have a great time and it keeps mom and dad pretty busy keeping that bait on that hook for them.”
Robbins gave her assessment of the importance of the installation hosting these types of events.
“It’s very important to have events like this open to the public because it provides an opportunity for the base to give back to the community,” she pointed out. “As long as we have the opportunity to host events like this, we plan to have it every year.”
Six trophies were awarded to the young anglers for their heaviest catch of the day.
The tournament, which was open to children ages 15 and younger, allowed youth to fish from 8–10:30 a.m. After that time, the pond was open to guests, parents and guardians.