The pandemic year brought a silver lining to the Country Squire Lakes Fishing Tournament last Saturday; since last year’s event had to be canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, it meant there was plenty of fish to go around.

Robert and Karen Luttrell in collaboration with the Jennings County Sheriff’s Office as well as many additional local sponsors and volunteers worked together to put on the event on June 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cardinal Lake in CSL. Food and drink was provided for free or for a freewill donation to be put toward next year’s event. A donation bucket was also set up to see how much could be raised in order to watch Sheriff Freeman take a dunk in the lake at the end of the tournament. $200 was raised in that effort.

But before that tradition could take place, fish had to be caught.

There were four age groups and three fish categories. The ages were divided into groups of 1-5, 6-10, 11-14 and 15-17. Volunteers kept track of the sizes and quantities of the bass, blue gill and crappie reeled in. Trophies were available for first, second and third place for each age group and fish category, as well as the first fish caught, the smallest fish caught, the biggest fish caught and the most fish caught.

But even if you weren’t among one of the trophy winners, enough donations had been collected in order to make sure every kid who participated went home with a prize.

Two tables laden with toys and fishing equipment could be selected from by each trophy winner and then by raffle ticket. There was also a raffle drawing for six bikes and a wagon, one for a boy and girl from each age group. A girl and boy from the age group of 15-17 got $100 instead of a bike.

After the four hours was up, poles were put down and scores were tallied. First fish caught went to Brennan Brown, 9; smallest fish went to Karli Ledbetter, 11; largest fish to Hailey Howard, 12; and most fish caught went to Braxton Wells, 8.

The following are the list of fish categories and the first through third place winners in each age group. Each child’s age is in parenthesis (). Note there were no crappie caught in the age groups of 1-5, 6-10 or 15-17:

Bass:

• Ages 1-5: First Place, Kaison Silas (5); Second Place, Brendon Perry (4); Third Place, Laura Jones (3).

• Ages 6-10: First Place, Isaac McGuire (7); Second Place, Corban Epp (8); Third Place, Jay Watkins (7).

• Ages 11-14: First Place, Hailey Howard (12); Second Place, Skyler Foster (13); Third Place, Dakota Beaver (12).

• Ages 15-17: First Place, Zachary Howard (15); Second Place, Alexis Tolman (16); Third Place, Kaden Sparks (16).

Blue Gill:

• Ages 1-5: First Place, Brendon Perry (4); Second Place, Daisey Seward (4); Third Place, Carmyn Moore (4).

• Ages 6-10: First Place, Cecil McIntosh (11); Second Place, Remington Love (6); Third Place, Elaina Wovler (7).

• Ages 11-14: First Place, Dakota Beaver (12); Second Place, David Moore (14); Third Place, Issabel Littiken (11).

• Ages 15-17: First Place, Alexis Tolman (16); Second Place, Brayden Wells, (15); Third Place, Cory Robbins (16).

Crappie:

• Ages 11-14: First Place, Ryan McCollum (13) and Second Place, Megan Jones (11).

In all, 456 fish were caught by the 141 kids who registered for the tournament. The fish that were caught were kept in a tank and then transferred to the larger Country Squire Lake.

Despite having to take the plunge, Sheriff Freeman expressed his enthusiasm of the day, saying he loves to see the kids’ smiles and excitement.

Sponsors of the event include Bait Shack and their customers, Bestway Disposal, Bingham Farm Machinery, Brewer’s Livestock, Bright Insurance, Bruce Bowman, Dave O’Mara, Decatur Plastics, Diekhoff Mower Sales, Eric Mize, Gun Club, Mickey Hines, Morin’s Landscaping, North Vernon Abstract, Parts House, Pepsi, Scot McKeand, State Farm-Greg Hicks, The Brick and Wilson Timber.