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Family Fishing Celebration Hits High Gear This Summer
AUSTIN, Texas — Fishing for crappie, bass and whatever else is biting takes center stage at more than 70 Texas state parks this summer, with dozens of Family Fishing Celebration events scheduled throughout the state.
Most events, such as the Kids Fishing Derby, Go Fishing With a Ranger and the Junior Angler Fishing Clinic, are geared toward youngsters who want to learn how to fish or how to fish better. The events also help instill in youngsters the importance of aquatic stewardship and the role they can play in sustaining a healthy fisheries resource.
The Family Fishing Celebration kicked off in 2003 to give families and others one more way to enjoy their Texas state park visits by eliminating the requirement for anglers to have a fishing license and the required stamps while fishing inside state parks.
"We’re trying to remove obstacles or excuses not to fish through this program," Ann Miller, TPWD’s Aquatic Education coordinator, said. "And, in some cases, we’re reintroducing folks to how much fun fishing can be."
The FFC’s license-free angling applies only to fishing inside a state park from the bank, a pier or from a boat if done in a body of water totally contained within the boundaries of a state park, such as Copper Breaks State Park’s 60-acre lake.
Eight state parks this spring will feature a grant-sponsored coordinator to organize Family Fishing Celebration events. The state parks are: Bastrop/Buescher, Blanco, Bonham, Brazos Bend, Eisenhower, Fairfield Lake, Galveston Island and Inks Lake.
One of the bigger events this year is expected to be at Eisenhower State Park north of Denison on Lake Texoma. Gander Mountain Outdoor Retail Store has joined as a sponsor of the FFC events, including the 3rd annual Eisenhower-Grayson County 4-H Kids Fishing Derby June 3.
Park superintendent Richard Kellogg says the Sherman outdoor sports retailer is helping promote the June 3, June 24 and July 1 events, and by providing bottled water and other giveaways.
"Fishing will be from 8 a.m. to noon with a free hotdog lunch afterwards," Kellogg said. "After that, there’ll be some fishing games and prizes given out for first fish ever caught, the biggest fish and the most fish caught that morning."
Last year’s event, which was held at the state park marina, drew 150 people. The park has a dozen or so loaner rods and reels, but Kellogg suggests anglers bring their own equipment if possible.
The June 24 event at Eisenhower is a family fly fishing event being taught by Steve Hollensed, a certified fly fishing instructor. Programs, which are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will showcase fly fishing opportunities at Lake Texoma and the park. This is a rare opportunity to learn fly fishing techniques and fly-tying from certified instructors and coaches. Call (903) 465-1956 for more information.
Bastrop and Buescher state parks east of Austin have already staged one spring FFC event, a Junior Angling Clinic that offered door prizes. Future clinics for youngsters 6 to 13 years of age are scheduled June 3, June 17, July 15 and July 22. Anglers of all ages are invited to attend an Advanced Fishing Clinic on Aug. 5.
"Over Spring Break, 51 kids came out for the first event," said Todd McClanahan, assistant superintendent of Bastrop and Buescher state parks. "Five of them caught their first fish and couldn’t have been happier."
For more information, about the Bastrop-Buescher FFC events, call Jamie Hackett at (512) 237-2241.
Lake Livingston and Ray Roberts Lake state parks also will be hosting special FFC events this summer. At Lake Livingston State Park in Polk County, anglers can attend workshops from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on July 22 to learn about freshwater fishing rules, knot-tying, fish identification and casting safety. To reserve your spot, call (936) 365-2201, Ext. 17.
From 9 a.m. to noon on June 3, the Isle du Bois unit of Ray Roberts Lake State Park near Pilot Point will host the 2006 Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby at the fishing pier. In addition, there also will be a Junior Angler Education clinic and Family Fishing Celebration on June 17 to educate youngsters and parents alike. Participants will learn about the basics of fishing through hands-on instruction during the morning clinic. To register, call (940) 686-2080.
Even one of Texas’ state historic sites, Landmark Inn in Castroville, is taking part in the Family Fishing Celebration festivities. Children 4 to 16 years of age will head to the banks of the Medina River that flows by Landmark Inn to participate in the 4th annual Catfish Kid Fish. All tackle will be provided for the July 22 event, which lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (830) 931-2133.
A complete list of state parks offering fishing opportunities and upcoming FFC events and seminars can be found on the TPWD Web site or by calling (800) 792-1112.
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