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Dozens of kids compete in fishing rodeo
April 18, 2018

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Dozens of children, as well as their parents, showed up at the lake off Still Road in North Fort Myers near the Charlotte County line early Saturday morning for a day of fishing and hanging out with mom and dad.

Jimmie's Friends Helping Friends, a local non-profit dedicated to helping needy area residents, hosted its 14th annual Fishing Rodeo, not as a way to raise money so much as to get the word out of who they are and what they do.

"It's a family day to spend time with your children, and kids like to fish," said Jimmy Roberts, president of Jimmie's Friends Helping Friends. "The kids grow up quick, and that's what this is about. Kids range from babies to 16."

Roberts said he never knows when something will happen where the group's services are needed. A few years ago, the event raised a lot of money when someone had a shop accident.

"He was in the hospital for three months, and what we raised at that event went to him," Roberts said. "We got the committee together and we gave it to him."

Although it got pretty hot later, it was the perfect day for fishing as everyone gathered at the three fishing holes on the property, searching for the perfect spot in which to catch the big one.

There were some quiet times in which the fish weren't biting, but eventually they would, and kids were catching bass and tilapia by the handful, measuring them and throwing them back in the water.

Kids earned trophies for the biggest catch, smallest, catch, biggest bass and most caught. Worms were provided to the kids and food was available to buy.

Mallory Bembry brought her two girls, Kennedy, 5, and Ally, 6, all the way from Buckingham to go fishing as a way to help Jimmy, who she has known since she was in 4-H as a child.

"We don't do as much fishing as we'd like. We came to help him," Mallory said as Jimmy helped worm up a line for one of her daughters. "We do these events whenever we can make them."

Mataya Rivera said the kids love fishing and that it was a good way to give back to the community.

"We're here to support the North Fort Myers area. We fish a lot and the kids enjoy it," Rivera said, who brought a posse of her friends and their kids for the trip. "We have age ranges between 4 and 14. I've been friends with Jimmy's son for a long time and we used to live nearby each other."

Kayden Deates, 6, was catching fish left and right, mostly tilapia. They weren't very big, but they were catches.

"It was kind of weird catching them. It was my fourth catch, all tilapia, my biggest was 14 inches," Kayden said with help from his mom, Jessica, as it was his first interview.

"We go to the beach a lot and he likes to bring his cast net and pole there," Jessica said.

A senior fishing rodeo will be held at the same location on May 5. The entry fee will be $10 and the fishermen will have to bring their own bait.

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