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Thirteenth annual Sandy Ridge Bream Tourney set for May 11

By By Mikes Giles / outdoors writer
April 26, 2002
Saturday, May 11 is a day many area children look forward to each year, and 2002 is no different. That's the day that Frank and Evelyn Tillman open up their lake to all kids.
The annual Sandy Ridge Bream Tourney started out 13 years ago. Frank Tillman was talking with Roger Carlisle, a local bait and tackle distributor, about the problem he was having with small bream in his lake. Carlisle suggested putting on a bream tournament to help alleviate the bream problem while also giving area youngsters a chance to catch some fish and have fun as well.
Getting started
Although Mr. Tillman had never held a tournament, he agreed to try it for one year. The rest, as they say, is history. The tourney has been a resounding success for everyone involved. In fact, it has turned into a labor of love for Mr. Frank and Ms. Evelyn.
Although a lot of work went into lining up sponsors in the beginning, Tillman stayed with it and now has an impressive list of local sponsors who help make the tourney a success year after year. In a time when a lot of people are complaining about nothing to do in our area, it's refreshing to see people like the Tillmans and the many sponsors and volunteers working to make the tourney a success for the children. These folks are truly putting kids first.
The tourney hours will be from 8 a.m. to noon. There will be three age brackets, which will allow all ages of children to compete and win prizes. There will be four winners in each bracket as follows: pre-school, 6 – 10 years of age, and 11 – 15. The bait will be restricted to live bait only. Trophies will be awarded for the largest bream caught in each of the three divisions.
Another benefit
Although the children have a lot of fun and catch many fish during the tourney, there is another benefit derived from it. The entry fee required for the children is two items of canned goods. Those canned goods are then donated to Wesley House and The Baptist Crisis Center. So in addition to giving the children an opportunity to get outdoors and do a little fishing, they are also helping with a worthy cause.
According to Mr. Tillman, he meets enthusiastic kids everywhere who have been to his pond fishing, and that's what makes it worthwhile. Just to see the smiles on their faces and the joy in their hearts makes it all the more meaningful.
If you haven't been out to the Tillmans' tourney, you have surely missed a treat. Don't miss out on an opportunity to spend some quality time with a child while having fun and making some memories. If you don't have a child or grandchild nearby, there's sure to be a youngster somewhere near, just waiting for a chance to go fishing. So don't delay, invite a child to go with you to the tournament; you just might be glad you did! It could be the memory of a lifetime.

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