Fish-free weekend draws in families

Several of the anglers had never lifted a fishing rod in their lives, but it didn’t stop them from taking advantage

This youngster holds on to his pike

This youngster holds on to his pike

Several of the anglers had never lifted a fishing rod in their lives, but it didn’t stop them from taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the Kids Can Catch event held at West Stettler Park on Saturday, July 12.

The event is held every year by the town, Fish and Wildlife Alberta, and as of last year, the Alberta Conservation Association. Rods, reels and bait are ready for the swarm of kids and parents who come out to try fishing for the first time, or just together as a family.

Year-round, kids under 16 do not require a licence to fish, but since the event itself is planned to take advantage of one of two ‘fish-free’ days in Alberta, where a fishing licence is not required. The other day falls in February, near family day.

This year, the event drew in more than 30 people, according to Lee Penner, Parks and Leisure Services director for the Town of Stettler.

“We had all ages, individuals and families,” Penner said. “If Mom showed up, she could fish too.”

The town had 21 rods and reels ready for use, but some brought their own, Penner said.

“We caught a few fish,” Penner said, but he noted that even those who didn’t catch one had plenty of fun.

“We ran to help anytime help was needed, whether it was a tangled line or a caught fish,” he added.

Ken Kranrod is the vice president for the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA), and has been involved with the Kids Can Catch event since its inception with the ACA. The ACA has partnered with several communities to support existing fishing events, like with Stettler, or has started up new events in communities where they don’t exist, like in Fort Saskatchewan or Ponoka – where the ACA is in the process of getting a Kids Can Catch program off the ground.

“Events vary, but build on a central theme of removing barriers to fishing and spending time outside as a family,” Kranrod said.

“What we hear is parents saying ‘We’re so busy nowadays, thanks for the event!’ So much is scheduled today, between sports and dance and school, that families just don’t take time to go fishing.”

In the case of the Stettler fishing event, the ACA came on board to lend support to an existing event, and has worked with the town and with Fish and Wildlife, through conservation officer Todd Ponich, to help bolster the event with advertising and funding.

Though the event had a good morning turn out, the sunny and hot weather made catching fish in the afternoon difficult as the fish weren’t eager to come out of the shade, so the event wrapped up early.