Before the sun rises Saturday, scores of children will be roused from their beds.
Registration begins at 6:15 a.m. for the annual Kids Fishing Derby at Javors Lucas Lake in Jones County.
One day each year, the Macon Water Authority opens ponds near its reservoir for the tournament that encourages parents to get their kids hooked on fishing.
No license will be required because May 31 is one of a few days during the year that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources promotes fishing by relaxing permit regulations in state waters.
The derby will be held at two 5-acre ponds stocked with catfish, said Gary McCoy, director of water treatment for the Macon Water Authority.
That will give the kids a better chance of catching a fish, McCoy said.
The Macon Water Authority will have nearly three dozen volunteers to help with the crowd, which is expected to be at least 500 people.
Participants must bring their own bait and tackle, but refreshments will be provided.
For adults new to fishing, some experienced anglers can help them get the children started.
We can help them bait their hooks, McCoy said.
The derby is now in its ninth year, and church groups and other organization are taking advantage of the event.
Youngsters age 3 to 16 will begin casting lines at 7 a.m. off Upper River Road.
The event is free, and parents and other adults attending with their children can fish for the remainder of the day after the 10:30 a.m. weigh-in and awards ceremony.
Prizes will be awarded for the top three finishers in four age categories, and a grand prize will be given for the largest fish caught.
McCoy remembers a 6-pound catfish winning the big prize in recent years.
Additional gifts from sponsors will be given away during the event.
Guests can access the fishing area on Broach Lane, which runs off of Upper River Road not far from the border of Bibb and Jones counties.
For more information, visit www.maconwater.org.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.