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Sandy Ridge Bream Tourney set

By By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
April 30, 2004
May is traditionally one of the best fishing months of the year. It is also a time that many local children and young anglers look forward to every year. For many it will be an opportunity to get out to Frank and Evelyn Tillman's lake for some fun and fantastic fishing.
If you have never been to Mr. Frank Tillman's bream tournament, then you have truly missed a lot of fun and excitement. Few childrens' activities rival the annual Sandy Ridge Bream Tourney.
Saturday, May 8th, is the big day this year. Although the tournament story has been told and retold fondly each year, it never gets old to the participants or sponsors. The annual Sandy Ridge Bream Tourney started out over 15 years ago as an experiment. Frank Tillman had been 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.
Although Mr. Tillman had some reservations about sponsoring a tournament, he agreed to try it for one year. The rest, as they say, is history. Needless to say, the tourney has been a resounding success for the Tillmans and 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 and planning the initial tourneys, Mr. Frank stayed with it and now has an impressive list of local sponsors who help make the tourney a success year after year.
Kids first
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 tournament a success for the children. These folks are truly putting kids first.
Each year Mr. Frank meets children all over the East Mississippi area who come up to him and tell him how much they enjoy the event. Quite a few of the young fishermen also come back to help out once they are too old to fish in the tournament.
There will be three age brackets, which will allow all ages of children to compete and win prizes. Only live bait will be allowed.
Promotes giving
Although the children have a lot of fun and catch a lot of fish during the tournament, there is another benefit derived from it. The entry requirement for each child is to bring 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.
If you haven't been out to the Tillman's 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 is 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.
For more information on the tournament, contact Frank or Evelyn Tillman at 693-1531.