Registrations are coming in for the June 14 Wichita Eagle Kids Fishing Clinic. The kids who are coming aren’t the only ones experiencing great anticipation.
It’s my favorite fishing day of the year, mostly because of what I’ve seen it do to kids in the past. The photo of one grinning girl from a past event sits upon my desk. She’s my favorite of the hundreds I’ve worked with.
The little girl, about 8, arrived with her face down, barely whispering answers to questions as I tried to start a conversation.
She was accompanied by a doting, elderly woman who said the girl was recently placed under her foster care. The woman waited patiently, saying the girl dearly wanted to catch her first fish. The child stared at her bobber for endless minutes as I helped freshen her bait and try new spots and other tricks trying to get a fish to bite.
Eventually her bobber went under, the girl screamed and yanked her fishing pole hard enough to send the four-inch sunfish well up onto the shoreline. The girl left the fishing clinic skipping, smiling and singing a song she made up about her fish.
It’s just one of so many memories from 12 years of clinics.
There was the time eight people representing three generations from one family were all coaching one small, confused child in the art of bobber-watching.
Some of the most enjoyable moments have been watching volunteers from The Eagle, the Flatland Fly Fishers Club or the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism gently coaching a child into touching, holding and releasing a fish they’ve just caught. A few times I’ve laughed as the child has done the same trying to get a parent to touch the tiny sunfish or bass they’re carefully holding.
Another memory was when Bonnie Bing, the Eagle’s famed fashion writer, shrieked, “Oh look, honey, your fish matches your outfit!”
I can’t help but wonder what great sights and sounds this year’s event will bring.
Registrations can be made through June 6, or until 360 kids sign up. Registration forms can be found in the newspaper or at The Eagle’s front counter at 825 E. Douglas. The event is sponsored by The Wichita Eagle and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
The clinic is in conjunction with the Great Plains Nature Center’s Walk With Wildlife at Chisholm Creek Park, near 29th and Woodlawn. It is open to children 12 and under. All must be accompanied by an adult, though volunteers will assist each child. All equipment is furnished. All fishing is catch-and-release and scheduled in 30-minute time slots between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. All slots are filled first-come, first-served. Assigned times will be mailed to participants.
The fishing clinic is free after a $2 admission charge to enter the Walk With Wildlife. For information call 316-268-6240 or contact email@example.com.