HAMLET — It’s been about 25 years since Mary Lois Buxton has been fishing.
But on Friday, the Hoke County native and several of her neighbors at Richmond Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation had the opportunity to hook a few catfish Friday.
Tonya Butts, hospice care consultant with Community Home Care and Hospice got the idea after seeing a video a friend shared on Facebook.
“It just seemed like a really, really awesome idea and something different … because they’ve been so cooped up, they’ve been stuck inside” with limited activities, Butts said.
So she contacted Richmond Pines “and they were on board with it.”
Butts said she started making calls and reeled in support in just two days.
Tractor Supply Co. of Rockingham loaned several metal tanks, which were filled with water by the Hamlet Fire Department, and the catfish were donated by the McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery in Hoffman.
Community Home Care and Hospice provided the rods and bait — which the catfish didn’t seem keen on as they gathered together in the shady areas of the tanks.
“That just shows how much the community will come together for something like this,” Butts said.
She added that those in retirement and nursing homes are a group that’s “too often forgotten.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents didn’t really get to go anywhere and since the virus started spreading, they haven’t been allowed visitors.
“This is just an opportunity for them to have something … as close to something they normally used to be able to do,” Butts said.
Butts and several Richmond Pines employees helped Buxton and the others bait their hooks as they dipped their lines in the tanks, hoping for a nibble.
Buxton, with a box of Milk Duds in her lap, said she used to go fishing all the time, but usually bream instead of catfish.
“It’s been 10 years since I’ve had a pole in the water like this,” said resident Jesse Mack, who was wheeled out later in the morning.
Mack, originally from Fayetteville, said he used to go fishing at the coast every week with his son, catching croaker and flounder.
Murriell Brooks, a Robeson County native, was the first to catch a fish — but it got away.
Minutes later, Buxton caught one, but Butts threw it back.
The original plan was to have the fish fried up for the residents, but health regulations prevented that, according to Butts.
Brooks then caught another— which also broke the line and fell back into the tank.
He wound up catching three within an hour.
One of the Richmond Pines staffers helped Mack catch one.
As it was flopping around in the net, Mack said, “He’s splashing water on me. He needs to go in a frying pan.”