I'm proud to say that my colleagues and I had another successful kids fishing clinic in celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week. This is the fourth year we have offered the clinic,which is held at Port of the Islands Marina. We invited approximately 50 migrant students from Immokalee and E. Naples to participate in this wonderful event. I can't think of a better example of true collaboration among various community organizations to provide a wonderful fishing opportunity for local underserved youth.First off, a big thanks goes to Fish Florida for donating fishing poles for the kids to take home with them. If you aren't familiar with this great organization, I highly recommend you visit their website at http://www.fishfloridatag.org/ to learn more about how they support youth fishing opportunities in Florida.
The students rotated through five skills stations (casting, knot tying, know your tackle, fishing regulations, and the good angler) managed by members of the Marco Island Sport Fishing Club, staff from 10,000 and Panther National Wildlife Refuges, and FWC law enforcement. As always, they did a first-class job educating the young anglers.
After the stations the students fished along the marina's sea wall. Collier County Parks and Recreation donated live shrimp, which worked well. The kids caught several fish including mangrove snappers and mojarras. In fact, several kids took home fish! We also had an alligator show up, and on more than one occasion it stole the kid's shrimp, but I don't think the students minded.
Following the fishing, the students were split into two large groups. While one group ate lunch (donated by Port of the Islands Marina) the other half went on manatee tours donated by Double R's Fishing and Eco-Tours and Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Tours. Then the groups switched. I can't thank my volunteers and partners enough for their time and commitment. This program would not be possible without their support. I know we had a great time, and I think its a safe bet to say the kids did too!!
|Know your regulations|
|learning how to cast|
|Its all about being a "good angler"|
|Learning how to identify fish|
|Hands on practice|
|Learning about our local National Wildlife Refuges|
|Nice snapper. It was a keeper!|
|A striped mojarra for dinner!|
|Our "little" visitor|
|Time for a manatee tour|
|Enjoying some lunch after a hard day of fishing|