It was perfect timing to kick off the beginning of rainbow trout stocking season in the state. Saturday marked the first event in East Texas during trout stocking season at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
The first “Select a Fly Challenge” fly-fishing tournament, which is planned to become an annual event, was held by the Friends of Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, a support group that raises funds for special projects and construction at TFFC.
The tournament required participants to fish with a single fly on one fly rod throughout the challenge. Donated flies were provided, and each angler was able to purchase one “mulligan” fly for an additional $20 donation to the TFFC Friends group.
The tournament based scoring on catch and release, by measuring the trout and submitting photos for live scoring. Anglers were eligible for prizes donated by individuals, ranging from fishing combos to hand ties and custom flies.
There were prizes in several categories, including the biggest trout of the day and a challenge championship for most total inches caught during the day.
Johnny Martinez, volunteer and organizer for the TFFC Friends group, helped put together the tournament in hopes of creating a series of similar fishing events to help raise funds for future fishing events.
“I was thinking of a way to help raise money for the organization. I am a local fly-fishing guide and that’s how I came up with the idea,” Martinez said. “This kicked off the annual trout stocking program in Texas. We want to introduce trout fishing to local neighborhood fishing as well.
“We hope this event will help create more of a formal education program to increase our presence on a state level,” Martinez added.”
There were people of all ages out on Saturday morning, from 10 years old to 70 years old. It seemed to be no difference in age as the tournament brought anyone and everyone out to come and fish together.”
Fort Worth resident Jan Bates attended the tournament. “I’m here because I just love fly-fishing. I am a good friend of Johnny Martinez and he told me about the tournament and asked me to come out and support the fishery center, Bates said.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center plans to hold more events in the future, such as fly-fishing tournaments with educational demonstrations and all-day fishing with hands-on instructions.
The cold, dry weather in East Texas didn’t seems to affect those coming together in unity for Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Woldert Park and Recreation Center on Sunday afternoon in Tyler.
Games, a bounce house for kids and McGee’s BBQ were available for those who attended the event with the goal of bringing the family and community together.
“The good thing about this is coming back together with people in the area and rebuilding relationships with free food, games and getting to spend time together with the family,” Latoya Johnson, of Tyler, said.
Attendees also filmed a scene for the movie “Love and Drugs” and DJ Keno G was in full affect.
DeMarcus Bailey, event coordinator and head of J.F. Productions, explained, “We also are shooting ‘Love and Drugs,’ a short feature film which deals with bullying and shows how it can change your life and be who you want to be after it all.
“Together in the community, we think all lives matter. I wanted to put something together in the community no matter what race you are because everyone needs to be one as a whole in the community,” he added. “There is no greater weekend to do that than the weekend we celebrate MLK.”
Disc were flying in the air during the 13th annual Ice Bowl Disc Golf Tournament Saturday morning at Lindsey Park in Tyler.
People from all over East Texas ranging from ages 7 to 60 years old signed up to play.The tournament featured families competing against one another while having fun at the same time.
Ice Bowls are disc golf tournaments held in cities across the nation from January to February. Ice Bowls are so named because they occur in the two months that are often the coldest of the year.
The mission of the Ice Bowl is to bring local awareness and raise money for those who can't feed themselves. The Ice Bowl is under no circumstances to be canceled or postponed because of any weather conditions and no excuses are permitted.
Funds raised are used for donations to the East Texas Food Bank that are dispersed across East Texas.
Debbie Isham, special events and recreation manager for the city of Tyler, explained: "Here we are promoting disc golf at the park. We have three courses out here and this is our 13th year doing it. So far we have given over 100,800 meals that serve 26 counties in East Texas.
"We had 52 players sign up this year, from kids to grandparents. The fun thing about it is that families can do this together, have a fun competitive experience and great bonding time while it all goes to the East Texas Food Bank for food donations."
Calvary Chapel Tyler hosted an Easter sunrise service early Sunday at T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza in downtown Tyler.
The service attracted around 60 people within the community. Just as the sun was peeking over the buildings behind them, they sang worship songs with their families and friends.
Local resident Bob Waterhouse came to the service bright and early ready to go.
"I love getting here early," he said. "It is awesome, and if you can't get up then something is wrong. The Lord is worth getting up to worship for.
"I hope more people can come out to worship next time," he said. "We will bless those who are not here and the Lord will keep me going."
For the fourth straight year, local nonprofit Pure Religion helped bring together the community to assemble beds for children facing possible entry into the foster care system.
Pure Religion works locally with Child Protective Services and Care Portal, the latter of which is a nonprofit that connects with churches to help children and families in need.
The organizations work together to send the beds that are made to children in the greater Smith County area who have been removed from their homes to a relative pending a CPS investigation.
Pure Religion also provides beds for orphans internationally.
In the past three years, Pure Religion has built about 350 beds and the organization planned to add 200 more at last Wednesday's event.
"We had 500 people preregister and plan to have over 600 by the end of the night," Pure Religion President Tony Black said of the volunteers. "We plan to build 200 beds by the end of the night, but if we end up with 150 then that's OK, too."
"Here in the holiday season, we gather together for what we are thankful for and I think this a great way to kick-start the giving season," he said.
Stations were set up throughout the parking garage at Green Acres Baptist Church with areas for assembling headboards, bunk beds and ladders.
Tyler residents Phil and Bobbie Burks were among the volunteers who came to help put together a bed and watch how everyone was working together.
"I'm an adopted child myself, and seeing people come out on Thanksgiving Eve, it is just amazing to watch and be a part of," Bobbie Burks said.
Phil Burks said the beds will mean a lot to the children who receive them, but also to the children who helped build them.
"The children out here get to put a hand and help another child to have a place to sleep locally and (in) other countries," Phil Burks said. "These kids and families here will carry this story with them their whole life."
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