August 2013
Outdoor Life

Angling for Smiles at Catfish Roundup

Participants fished the afternoon away with help from volunteers.  

Ironmen Outdoor Ministries hosted the 4th Annual Charles Wendell Memorial Catfish Roundup May 25, 2013. It was open to all disabled adults and children looking for a fun Saturday afternoon of fishing at Little River Park. The event lasted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a free lunch. Fishing poles and bait were provided for all who registered, but they were more than welcome to bring their own.

Participants traveled from all over southern Alabama including Mulheren Home out of Mobile, Abiding Love in Foley, The Wounded Warriors Project and Wheeling Outdoor Adventures. Volunteering at the registration table, I was able to meet so many fishers who were excited to be spending the day at the park! Busload after busload pulled up with volunteers off to the side to pick a partner and get them ready to fish. The park had purchased catfish and closed off a large part of the water with a net to contain the fish in a concentrated area. Participants gathered in a large circle around the designated section, and volunteers assisted them with any and all needs. Catfish food was tossed out to attract the fish up closer to the shore. Smiles abounded while fishers tried their luck at landing a catfish.

  Volunteers and participants arrived at Little River State Park by the busloads.

During lunch, hungry participants gathered under a tent out of the hot sun and were able to feast on hamburgers and hotdogs grilled and served by volunteers. As a volunteer helping pass out lunch, I couldn’t help but notice how happy all the fishing participants were - having caught a fish or not. The day’s entertainment was Mr. Bibby Simmons, "The Black Elvis," who has performed all over the world including for Queen Elizabeth. While in Las Vegas, he won the 2003 Entertainer of the Year. In England, he won the World Trophy. He did an outstanding job performing during lunch, and even had tables of fishers stand up and dance! He sang some of Elvis’s greatest hits including "Burning Love," "Hound Dog" and "Suspicious Minds." There was prayer, singing and preaching enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

  Left, Rick Murphy, one of Ironmen Ministries Southern Region directors, helps with the day’s activities. Above, Veronica Versailles and Lisa McLaughlin volunteer at the registration table.

This event would not have been possible without volunteers. I urge you, especially if you are in the area close to Little River Park, to find out more about this wonderful annual event and volunteer next year! There is always room for one more person willing to help. If you or someone you know is disabled and would like to come to next year’s event, keep your calendar handy and find out more information! There were just enough volunteers this year, but, next year, let’s make it more than enough. This is such a wonderful outreach by Ironmen Outdoor Ministries and they deserve our continued support.

Ironmen Outdoor Ministries is a nonprofit organization funded by their annual wild game supper, memberships, contributions and memorial contributions. Money donated to them is used to sponsor activities taking place at Little River Park such as this handicapped fishing event, the special needs rodeo, passing out food to impoverished families and donating to orphanages.

Mr. Bibby Simmons, “The Black Elvis,” provided the day’s entertainment.  

Little River Park consists of approximately 2,100 acres of longleaf pine forest, and provides a unique setting for many outdoor activities. Although hunting is not allowed on a large scale at Little River Park, it has the unique identity of being one of the few "handicap" hunting locations within the state of Alabama. The rules and regulations for this hunting privilege are controlled and monitored by the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Fishing, hiking, zip-lining and swimming are all offered at Little River. These activities are available for a moderate entry fee. Boats are available for rent by the day while paddle boats are available for rent by the hour. There are six pavilions that are rented out for the day, in varying dimensions to accommodate different group sizes. Hiking can be enjoyed on the primitive roads covering all of Little River, while on these trails there are plenty of chances to view the ample wildlife the park contains. Cabin reservations can be made at the park office as well as reservations for the pavilions. If you have your own trailer, the park provides electricity and water hookups, and, if necessary, there are sewage hookups. There is also unlimited space for the person who likes to rough it. It’s a spectacular place for wholesome family entertainment!

For more information about this event, contact the Ironmen Ministries Southern Region Directors: Rick Murphy, 334-207-6068; Scott Hawk, 205-283-5501; or Greg Godwin, 251-510-7649.

Little River State Park is managed by Ironmen Outdoor Ministries. The park is located at 580 H. Kyle Road, Atmore, AL 36502 (US Highway 21 N., mile marker 19). For more information, please call 1-251-862-2511 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Emily McLaughlin is a freelance writer from Uriah.