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Young anglers catch on to fishing
Goal is 'no child left indoors'
Fish WEB 1
Dozens of children line the bank of the Chattahoochee River at Lower Pool Park as they fish Saturday morning. - photo by Jim Dean

Tobee Crosswhite is becoming a master in the art of fishing.

The 6-year-old shared his secret Saturday during the annual kids’ fishing day at Lower Pool Park.

“I just stand and wait and wait and wait,” Crosswhite said.

The grown-ups knew the real secret, though.

“They were using this,” said Tanya Harris, holding up a jar of neon putty known as “power bait.”

With 2,500 rainbow trout stocked in the Chattahoochee River that morning, the bites kept coming for many of the more than 200 kids participating in the annual free event.

Held in conjunction with National Hunting & Fishing Day, the day has been offered in Forsyth County for about a dozen years to encourage kids to take an interest in fishing, organizer Bill Couch said.

In all those years, Couch has never seen the return he did Saturday.

“I was utterly amazed at how many fish got caught,” he said.

Along the riverbank, kids young and old hauled in catches using many different methods.

Michael Toplisek and his friends had a bucket filled with about a dozen trout, several of which were caught by hand.

“You wait for them to come to you, then you grab them by the head area,” Toplisek said.

The group camped at a nearby site with the Warhecke family, who hoped the activities would provide the evening’s fireside dinner.

“We told them you better get some [fish] or you’ll be hungry,” Alecia Warhecke teased.

Aside from the main event on the river, the day’s activities continued on the grassy park area, where folks enjoyed free food and fishing and hunting demonstrations.

Ed Chamberlain greeted guests with a flick of his wrist.

The Trout Unlimited member offered introductions to fly fishing casts in the grass.

“The primary focus is for kids to hopefully develop an interest in fishing,” Chamberlain said.

Though he worked with plenty of youth, Chamberlain said it’s more difficult for him to reel in kids to teach when there’s a real river with real fish behind him.

For the first time at the event, Couch said the hunting component was also part of the day, with BB gun instructional shooting available.

This year, he also enjoyed seeing kids helping kids, since many of the event’s volunteers came from county high school clubs.

The former Department of National Resources employee said the event’s overall mission is for “no child [to be] left indoors.”

“One of the goals of [DNR] is to encourage adults and children to go fishing and to get outside,” Couch said. “It’s just a day when nationwide, organizations try to do things that are outdoor-related.”