Emileigh and Haleigh Zimmerman, 8, have a goldfish at home. But “he’s big and fat and boring,” Emileigh said, while she waited in line with her father at The Wichita Eagle Kids Fishing Clinic at Chisholm Creek Park on Saturday morning.
“The fish in the lake are more fun,” Haleigh said. “You never know what color they’re going to be.”
It was the Zimmerman girls’ second year at the Fishing Clinic, an annual event where children 12 and younger get some fishing instruction and the chance to catch some fish.
A total of 315 children came for a half an hour of fishing at the lake. Usually, three out of four kids get their first fishing experience at the clinic, said Jessica Mounts, district fisheries biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. For many, it’s the only time they fish in a year.
“One of my favorite sounds is kids screaming when they catch a fish,” Mounts said. “It’s nothing but pure joy.”
Brittyn, 2, didn’t scream when he caught his first fish, a small bass. He offered the grownups around him a shy smile and hid behind his grandfather’s legs. Bud Palmer, 75, brought Brittyn and Keatyn, 4, to their first fishing experience. Four years ago, he did the same for their older brothers.
Adah Wahl, 3, caught a big fish at the clinic last year. This time, Adah, who is almost blind, waited patiently by the lake with her grandparents, holding the cane pole with both hands. But no fish took the bait. “We’ll catch one next time,” her grandfather said as they left the lake.
The 11th annual clinic was held in conjunction with the Great Plains Nature Center’s Walk With Wildlife. The event was sponsored by Cabela’s and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Volunteers from The Eagle, the sponsors and the Flatland Fly Fishers Club assisted the children.