JULIE BERTRAND/Independent reporter
Fishermen braved the rain and the wind on the morning July 9 to fish for free at the West Stettler pond. It was the town Recreational Fishing Day, held in conjunction with Free Fishing Weekend and National Fishing Week.
“Two years ago, my son Brian and his friend Dustin wanted to have a fishing derby at the pond,” explained Todd Ponich, district fish and wildlife officer.
“We talked to the rec board and we decided that we would be better off having a family-type fishing day.”
The event is a project between Stettler Parks and Leisure and the Government of Alberta Sustainable Resources.
Lee Penner, director of Parks and Leisure services, and Jacqui Newton, department secretary, watched from the side as various anglers untied knots on their fishing lines.
“Today has been a success,” said Penner.
“One fish was caught,” said Newton.
No fishing licence was required and free fishing rods were provided to beginning fishermen, from the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association in Calgary to help out kids learn how to fish and to promote the activity.
“Sixteen kids showed up so far. It’s pretty good. It’s a pretty good turnout, all things considered,” said Ponich.
The main rule at the pond is that all the fishing there has to be catch and release.
“About nine years ago, we stocked the pond with northern pike,” said Ponich.
“The nice thing about northern pike is that they reproduce right in the pond. We don’t have to continue stocking the pond.”
Ponich also handed out packages containing information about fishing in Alberta and free hooks.
“I’m just volunteering my help because of my job,” he said.
Ponich believes that the popularity of fishing remains constant in Alberta.
According to Alberta laws, children can fish without a licence until they turn 16 years old and senior citizens don’t need a licence either after they turn 65 years old.
“Fishing is something that a lot of families participate in and it’s something that kids can enjoy,” concluded Ponich.