Kids Fishing Clinics, Contests on Tap at Texas State Parks This Spring

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas State Parks' yearlong Family Fishing Celebration shifts into high gear this spring and summer with how-to clinics, contests and events at a number of state parks designed to help families get outdoors and enjoy one of America's favorite pastimes.

The Family Fishing Celebration, which kicked off last Labor Day weekend and runs through Aug. 31, waives the need for a fishing license for Texans and out-of-state visitors fishing within the boundaries of more than 70 Texas State Parks.

Inks Lake State Park near Burnet is hosting how-to fishing clinics for youngsters on multiple dates this spring. Inks Lake's "Go Fishing with a Ranger" events, which start April 3 and last through June, provide children with basic fishing skills instruction from park rangers and camp hosts every Saturday evening, except May 15. Clinic participants will meet at 6 p.m. at the Inks Lake park store. Space is limited. For additional information, call (512) 793-2223.

On June 5, Inks Lake will join with Cedar Hill, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Livingston, Martin Dies Jr. and McKinney Falls state parks to host various children's fishing events, including contests offering prizes to top kid anglers. Parents are encouraged to bring their own fishing tackle, since most parks have a limited amount of fishing equipment on hand.

Parents can introduce their children to Texas history, as well as fishing, on July 17 at Landmark Inn State Historic Site in Castroville. The 2nd annual Catfish Kid Fish event offers children ages 4-16 the chance to try their luck reeling in a "cat" from the Medina River using tackle provided by the park.

Galveston Island State Park Manager Angela Deaton reports that the word about the Family Fishing Celebration is really starting to spread.

"One of the first things Winter Texans ask when they show up at headquarters is whether they can fish for free at the park," Deaton said. "They're delighted they don't have to have a Texas fishing license."

To help inform out-of-state travelers and Texan motorists as well about the yearlong fishing event, 100,000 Family Fishing Celebration brochures are being distributed through the state's Travel Information Centers and more than 70 participating Texas State Parks. In addition, participating parks will be distributing "Water Works Wonders" coupon books offering manufacturers' discounts and other special fishing and boating related promotions, while supplies last.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department launched the Family Fishing Celebration to make it easier for parents to fish with their kids. Not requiring adults 17 and older to have a license to fish in a state park also encourages families to share quality time outdoors with their children and gives them an additional reason to visit Texas state parks to experience the joys of fishing.

The fishing license exemption saves Texas residents fishing in state parks the $23 cost of a fishing license and non-residents $50. Park admission fees, as well as fish catch and size limits, will still apply during fishing events. Any fish requiring a tag, such as oversize red drum and tarpon, must still be tagged.

Through Aug. 31, license-free angling will be restricted to bank and pier fishing, and to fishing in bodies of water totally contained within the boundaries of a state park, such as Lake Raven in Huntsville, according to Kevin Good, project coordinator for Texas State Parks. If anglers launch boats from state park property to access an adjacent lake or other water body, he said, they will still need a fishing license because the waiver will not apply outside state park boundaries.

Good said that the yearlong no-license policy applies to piers operated by the state, such as Copano Bay Fishing Pier, and to wade fishing where applicable within the boundaries of a state park. The license waiver does not apply to the state's 50 Wildlife Management Areas.

To facilitate the fishing experience, many state parks have lighted piers, fish-cleaning stations, boat ramps, lakeside campsites and other facilities. If you don't have a boat, some parks will rent you watercrafts, such as kayaks and canoes. Numerous water bodies in and adjoining state parks are regularly stocked by TPWD.

Park visitors may also want to take advantage of the new Texas State Parks Pass, which provides free entry to all 120 state parks and historic sites for members and their guests, camping discounts and other benefits for a year. Similar in appearance to a credit card, the new annual pass retails for $60 for one wallet-sized pass card. Families who often visit state parks and arrive at different times or in more than one vehicle may opt to make a same-day purchase of a two-card pass package for $75. For more information about this pass, please visit (

A complete list of state parks offering fishing opportunities and dates of upcoming Family Fishing Celebration events and seminars can be found on the TPWD Web site (, or by calling (800) 792-1112.