Stand by, to share a crisp Godly-inspired “Fall Day” at a pretty little lake of Middle Tennessee.
“Lord, we pray that the fish ‘bite’ these sweet, pretty children’s hooks today, as most of them have never fished before,” was the prayer leading up to the annual ‘John Stuart Rocking & Reeling Club’”…held recently at Long Hunter State Park’s pristine 110-acre Couchville Lake that prohibits motorized boats.
Cheers echoed out over the glass-smooth water from the more than 35 children from the Boys & Girls Club after prayer and safety instructions from “Fishing Boss” Jeff Brookman and his “cast” of volunteers, siblings Jon-Michael and Kayla Brookman, plus “guest vol” Nikki, their friend, in charge of keeping hooks baited, extracting fish from hooks and retrieving some hooks that landed up in trees overlooking the lake.
“We know you all will act as good sportsmen, and look behind you as you prepare to cast your baited hooks into the water,” Jeff organized. “And try to stay out of the trees, for the ‘tree bass’ are not biting today…”
Another cheer echoed through the woods from the youngsters, who ranged in age from 6 to 12, as they “chorused” agreement to change the event’s official name from “Fishing For Kids” to the “John Stuart Rocking & Reeling Club,” sponsored by Smyrna Parkway Baptist Church, O’Charley’s Restaurant of Smyrna, Murfreesboro Post and Cannon Courier newspapers, plus the Bass Pro Shop of Opryland.
“We like the name change to the Rocking & Reeling Club since our church stands for Christ, the ‘rock’ of Christian salvation and service to God’s children,” Jeff Brookman noted as he helped another youngster cast their hopeful hook, line and bobber into the waters.
In less than one “official minute” of fishing, angler (B&G member) Matthew Wright showed the “right stuff” when he hoisted in the groups’ first catch of the day, on a new rod and reel donated by Bass Pro.
“We can’t thank Bass Pro enough for donating 50 new rod and reels for use annually for our event,” added Brookman.
More cheers soared out over the lake with arrival of Hilda Stuart and Jennifer, wife and daughter of event namesake Smyrna resident John Stuart. His son, country music star Marty Stuart, could not be in attendance this year.
“John also couldn’t be here today, because of illness,” cast Hilda Stuart as a longtime member of Parkway Baptist Church…
“We’re here to watch the excitement on a child’s face as they catch their first fish of life,” added Jennifer Stuart as she helped serve hamburgers and condiments, compliments of O’Charley’s.
“It’s one of the most gratifying events each year here at Long Hunter State Park,” event organizer Dan Whittle shared. “The children with their sparkling personalities and mannerly ‘yes sirs’ and ‘no sirs,’ plus, they all call me…‘Dan, Dan, the newspaper man.’ What’s not to love about joyful children on their first day of catching fish?”
“Our B&G Club children talk about this event all year long,” confirmed B&G Club Director Kelli Reuben. “We can’t thank the sponsors and Mr. Brookman enough for their tireless work and efforts to bring thousands of smiles to our children…most of whom have never fished before…”