Michael Pearce

Another great kids clinic, thanks to many

Harry Hoover admires a fish he caught during the Wichita Eagle's Kids Fishing Clinic at the Great Plains Nature Center on Saturday.
Harry Hoover admires a fish he caught during the Wichita Eagle's Kids Fishing Clinic at the Great Plains Nature Center on Saturday. The Wichita Eagle

Temperatures peaked at 98 degrees, the event had been postponed a week and was held on Father’s Day weekend, for some long periods of time it seemed the fish had lockjaw.

But few could question that Saturday’s Wichita Eagle’s Kids Fishing Clinic was again a success, thanks to many people.

▪ Wildlife and Parks biologist Jessica Mounts couldn’t be at the event because of a family tragedy, but she had Island Pond at Chisholm Creek Park well-stocked with fish, waived the no bait regulation for the pond and had more than enough equipment, including worms, ready to go.

▪  Peggy Smith, the Eagle’s brains and labor behind the entire event, also couldn’t attend but had everything so organized it couldn’t have gone more smoothly. Without Peggy’s pre-event work, the clinic plain would not happen.

▪ Juju Wellemeyer, Mounts’ right-hand helper, was the only Wildlife and Parks staffer to help with the event, but she did the agency proud, giving orientation lessons to every group and then helping kids individually when needed. I think this was her fourth, and last, kids clinic since she’s heading to Tennessee for graduate school.

• This was the 14th annual kids clinic and the Flatland Fly Fishers has been a main source of volunteers for 13 of those years. Again, they answered the bell and did everything from tie on hooks to swelter beside kids helping many catch their first fish.

If memory serves, Neal Hall has represented the club at every clinic they’ve attended. Neal seldom takes a break from the sun, and was a main reason why we had about a 90-percent success rates among the kids who were willing to spend the time trying.

▪ Fishing's Future, a volunteer group of trained angling instructors, sent three volunteers for the first time, and they made a huge difference.

▪  The Eagle had volunteers from Sherry Chisenhall, executive editor and Dale Seiwert, chief financial officer, to about every newsroom intern.

• A neat factor is that this year we had six volunteers aged 18 and under. Three of which stayed all day, despite the heat. Two included my 13-year-old buddy, Jake, and his best friend, Kai.

▪  A monstrous “thank you” has to go to the parents who brought their kids to the event, even though it was re-scheduled and wasn’t in conjunction with the popular Great Plains Nature Center’s Walk With Wildlife, and the conditions were flat-out hot from the first group on.

▪ For those who might be interested, most of the fish caught were bluegill about 4 inches long. Most years the #1 catch are green sunfish or bluegill/sunfish hybrids. Probably a dozen bass were caught, most around 10 inches and that’s long enough to really make the long, reel-less poles dance.

I’m pretty sure we’ve had entire clinics in the past when we haven’t had a bullhead caught. Saturday the kids must have caught at least 20. Snakes and turtles near shore entertained the kids almost as much as the fish.