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The Anatomy of a Successful Event

(posted on Porcupine Fish Attractors site)

In the past, we have used this page to give fishing tips and timely information but I feel the need to tell you about an event that was completed last Saturday. For the past five years, I have had the privilege of helping at an event called the Pell City Kids Catfish Rodeo. The event falls during the week of National Fishing and Boating Week every year. This year, Gary Kendrick and the Coosa Crappie Club asked to become more involved in the planning and hosting of the event and were eagerly granted that by the Pell City Alabama Park and Recreation Department. I must tell you that Gary Kendrick and his wife, Barbara are some of the most giving people whom I have ever known.

In the words of the great Paul Harvey, “Now for the rest of the story.” While this event only lasted a few hours, Gary Kendrick and many others spent countless hours of planning, calling in favors, and begging to make what I feel was the greatest Kids Catfish Rodeo ever in its nine year history. As I regularly do, I started contacting my friends last year in an effort to get their support for this event. Larry Harper of Porcupine Fish Attractors committed to this event long before gas prices started reaching the $4.00 per gallon mark. Larry showed up on the Wednesday before the event, ready to do whatever was needed. He took hundreds of pictures, helped with preparing the fishing area, helped kids fish, and then finished up by being there for a group that is special in my heart, Veterans who have lost or are losing their sight. Larry has a heart as big as anyone I know and for that I am thankful to call him a friend.

I must tell you about others who dedicated so much of themselves to make this event the success that it was. Russ Bailey and Jeff Toben of Midwest Crappie signed on for this event, many months ago. They both showed up on Thursday, ready to do what it took to make this event a success. Russ came bearing gifts for the kids as well as doing a great job at the scales and being the “Master of Ceremonies.” Jeff did whatever was needed to provide a helping hand and you will not believe the video he shot of a 4 year old kid catching a huge Catfish.

This year, Gary Kendrick came up with a new idea to tag some of the fish and if a child was lucky enough to catch one of these tagged fish, the child would receive a lifetime fishing license. Folks, lifetime fishing license in Alabama are not cheap. Again, Gary contacted several businesses and was able to have Metro Bank of Pell City underwrite one Lifetime Fishing License if their tagged fish was caught. As expected, when our friend Jerry Culberson, best known as the founder of Anglers Unlimited was asked if he would like to help, He stepped up and underwrote two lifetime fishing license tags through his company, Preferred Health Services.

The great Catfish Tournament Team of Phil King and Tim Haynie showed up early with as much enthusiasm as I have ever seen. Spending a few days around these guys brought the perspective of why we were doing this event. Phil and Tim made one of the most valid points when the reminded all of us that this was about the kids. Kids don’t care what they catch, just as long as they catch something. On Saturday morning, I also saw that it was also about the parents, the single mom making sure her kid was there to fish or the grandparent that has stepped in to make sure that their grandchild has the same shot they did.

Phil and Tim made sure that with the support of their sponsors like Cabela’s, Triton Boats, SeaArk Boats, Pure Fishing, and Kimberly Clark, no child left this event without something. They brought a ton of prizes and worked well into the night before bagging up gifts for those kids to show up. The neatest attraction at the Catfish Rodeo was the mount of Phil’s 103 pound catfish that he had just got back from the Taxidermist. The kids were blown away when they saw this monster hanging from a tree.

Sonny and Coy Sipes who are sponsored by Blakemore Bait and B and M Poles have been on board for five years and just as expected, they showed up on Thursday morning and assisted in placing the net in place and doing whatever had to be done. On Saturday, these two showed up with sponsor products and their fish cleaning skills. I have never seen anyone clean catfish like Sonny and Coy. They are two amazing guys. BJ’S Bait donated several rod and reels as well as other tackle that was given away. Thanks to my dad, Joe Thomas Sr, several prizes were donated by the Governors Office and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. He also convince Frank Daniel’s wife, Hayley, to show up and do face painting for the kids once they grew tired of fishing. We cannot forget the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for their help in placing the net as well as the Conservation Officers who showed up on Saturday to assist the kids Something as simple as bags to put the kids prizes in became a challenge. My friends at Simmons Sporting Goods in Bessemer, Alabama stepped up to the plate as they have done so many times before and gave us all the bags we needed.

So my friends you can see, an event of this kind does not just happen. It takes people and companies that are not so worried about the bottom line but about the future of our country and the future of the kids that participated. I am forever grateful for the generosity of others to make this event a huge success. Until next time, keep a tight line and consider taking a kid fishing.




Published: February 6, 2008

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out an agreement that Georgia reached with the Army Corps of Engineers for water rights to a major federal reservoir outside Atlanta, handing Alabama and Florida a major victory in the states' years-long water wars.

The 2003 agreement with the Corps would give Georgia about a quarter of Lake Lanier's capacity during the coming decades and is the foundation of Georgia's long-term plans for supplying drinking water to the rapidly growing Atlanta region.

Alabama and Florida challenged the pact, arguing Georgia doesn't have a legal right to the federal reservoir, which was initially built for hydropower.

The withdrawals would dry up river flows into their states that support smaller municipalities, power plants, commercial fisheries and industrial users, such as paper mills.

A district court earlier ruled in Georgia's favor, but the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington overturned that decision Tuesday, saying the agreement constituted a major operational change at the reservoir that requires congressional approval.

"This is the most consequential legal ruling in the 18-year history of the water war, and one of the most important in the history of the state of Alabama," said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley.

"It establishes that the decades-old practice of Atlanta taking more and more water from the federal reservoirs in the Coosa and Chattahoochee rivers without any legal authority to do so will not stand," Riley said.

The ruling comes amid tense negotiations among the states' governors over water sharing during a record drought.

The talks have been brokered by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, but so far have not yielded tangible results.

Although the ruling raises questions about Georgia's rights to the water it already is using in Lake Lanier, it would not harm the state's negotiating position, said Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

"Our goal and our focus has always been on reaching an agreement with our neighbors and to work this out at the negotiating table rather than in a courtroom," Brantley said.

He said the state had not ruled out appealing the case to the Supreme Court.

Michael Sole, secretary of Florida's environmental protection department, called the ruling a victory for the ecosystem around the state's Apalachicola Bay, which Florida officials have argued would be harmed by low river flows.

"It clearly supports Florida's position that the Corps and Georgia cannot agree to reallocate storage in the Lake Lanier reservoir, to provide more water for Atlanta, for instance, without congressional approval," he said.



November 7, 2007 Anglers Unlimited Helps to Host 2nd Annual

Alabama Championship Crappie Tournament

We’ll its back to the work routine after a great week of fishing on Weiss and Neely Henry Lakes in Alabama. Jerry Culberson and Anglers Unlimited members put on a great 2nd Annual Alabama Championship. We were able to pre-fish on Weiss on Wednesday, November 1, 2007. During practice, we found some decent fish on the lower end of the lake near Bay Springs. We fished the river channel and caught several fish but the bite was slow. We found that you had to be in heavy cover and the presentation had to be extremely slow. On the first tournament day, we managed to catch only 8 fish all day. Our largest 7 weighed only 6.02 lbs. This placed us in 17th place, 4 pounds behind the leaders, Moody and Blackburn. David did manage to hook a 45 lb catfish and we got it to the boat before it broke the 6 pound test line. Not to give up, we were on Neely Henry before daylight waiting for the clock to strike seven. David had pre fished on Neely Henry the week before and had caught some nice fish in the area where we fished. After the tournament began, we had 7 keepers in the box within the first 15 minutes. For the next 4 hours, the bite was fast and furious. We must have caught 50 or 60 crappie along with catfish, stripes, and spotted bass. Culling our stringer was a constant job and we had to again weigh fish at the weigh in. We managed to bring in 7 crappie weighing 10 lbs even. This brought us up to a tenth place finish. We would like to congratulate Moody and Blackburn for the second win in the second annual Alabama Championship. They brought in a two day total of 21.36 lbs. The top 10 are listed below. After the weigh in, draw prized were awarded to the participants. Larry Harper of Porcupine Fish Attractors was present to hand out some attractors as door prizes as well as answer many questions from the participants. Larry even got the opportunity to fish a little while with Russ Bailey. When Russ told Larry they were going to shoot some docks, Larry showed up with a shotgun! They managed to catch a lot of fish and Larry was able to get a two pounder on his first outing of dock shooting.

2007 Alabama Championship Results


Brent Moody & Greg Blackburn







Don Travis and Roy Elkins



Calvary City




Stanley Steed & Zachary Steed

Cave Springs


Luke AFB




Terry Whaley and Carlton Teague

Cedar Bluff






Joe Hayes & Phil Trapp

Cave Springs


Cave Springs




Coy and Wilber Sipes

Pell City






David Stancil and Earl Brink







Andre Reynolds & Yvonne Burt

Fort Payne


Fort Payne




Bill McCord and Lance Wheeler

Cave Springs






Joe M. Thomas & David Morrow

Pell City


Pell City




Russ Bailey and the 2007 Alabama Championship Winners
Brent Moody and Greg Blackburn

After the weigh in was over, Russ Bailey, host of Midwest Crappie, and I started a project that I think will be beneficial to his viewers as well as anyone interested in Porcupine Fish Attractors. We shot the first half of a show that will air in the 08-09 season. We took the time to explain how to assemble and put out the attractors. We are going to shoot the second half of the show in the spring of 2008 and go fish on the attractors we put out. I think this will give a unique view of how well these attractors work. Until next time, keep a tight line.

Russ and Joe placing an attractor in Neely Henry Lake

Joe Thomas
Porcupine Fishing Attractor Pro Staff


Posted on

November 30, 2007

Anglers Unlimited Holds Work Day On Weiss Lake

Porcupine Fish Attractors is proud to partner with Anglers Unlimited in their effort to replace Fish Habitats in Weiss Lake, Alabama. On Saturday, January 5, 2008, Volunteers from Anglers Unlimited got together and put out over 30 Porcupine Fish Attractors in Weiss Lake. Anglers Unlimited is an organization who’s motto is: To educate the public about the importance of fish habitat and it’s role in the survival of all fish species. To promote conservation and protection of our rivers, lake and streams for today and tomorrow. To replace lost fish habitat with new aquatic habitat that will allow current freshwater fish species to reproduce and survive. Porcupine Fish Attractors is proud to support Anglers Unlimited and look forward to many great things. For more information, please visit their website at, Also, if anyone is interested in joining a new Crappie Club in Alabama, a meeting will be held on Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 4:00 PM to make plans for the coming year. The meeting will be held at Cherokee County Senior and Nutrition Center, 199 Hospital Ave. Centre, Alabama 35960. For more information, contact Glen Floyd – cell 256-557-0264, Jerry Culberson – cell 256-557-0023, or Terry Whaley – cell 256-557-8555.
click here for some photos of the work day. (photos)
Until next time, keep a tight line,
Joe Thomas