MILITARY MATTERS: Fishing night brings families together

By Chuck Leonard  - bio | email

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Remember how much fun you had the first time you went fishing?

Four-year old Sara Manguya does. "I got a little fish", she says, commenting on the minnow she hooked during Family Fishing Night at Fort Benning, Ga.  Sara was one of four dozen people on hand for the gathering at Russ Pond.

"We've had this event for about the last three-and-a-half years", explains Brittany Beadle, an outdoor recreation specialist with the post's Directorate of Family and Welfare, Morale and Recreation. "…and it seems to get better and better every time."

Rods and reels are provided free of charge, and so is the corn, which fish and wildlife biologist Brent Widener calls an excellent substitute bait.

"Mainly cause folks just don't want to put worms on their hooks, but it works. You can catch fish on corn and worms."

You'd be surprised to learn how many youngsters get their start at the pond. Staff Sgt. Justin Griffin and his family recently moved from Fort Stewart, Ga."This is our first time actually. We just got here probably a month ago. We finally got settled in, so this is our actual first time coming up."

Likewise for Tyrone Dillard, who relocated from Fort Knox, Ky. His one word to describe the event with his daughter Tamera is fun. "This is the first time taking her fishing. My brother took her before, when I wasn't here."

Russ Pond is designed for young anglers, no one over the age of 15, although the occasional help from mom & dad is allowed." Beadle says quite often mothers are called on to teach the sport.

"Whenever a husband gets deployed, the mom is home with the kid. We have a lot of moms come out here, their kids don't know anything about fishing, and they get to learn something new and their kids love it!"

Sergeant First Class Eric York is another new arrival from Fort Knox. He says there was nothing like this back in Kentucky. "So far, I'm pretty impressed. I like it. I'm sure it takes a lot to put something together like this. So it's nice that they can do something like this for the kids."

Of course, it's not just for the children. It's also creating wonderful memories for parents.