NORTH LIBERTY– Family fishing, fishing tips, food and prizes are featured Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Liberty Centre Park in North Liberty. As part of Iowa’s Free Fishing Days (June 3-5), veteran anglers, parks and fisheries workers will help families get started on the water during free fishing clinic.
During Free Fishing Days, Iowa residents may fish without a license.
Anyone attending the free clinic will be able to see Iowa fish up close in the Department of Natural Resources’ traveling fish trailer. Short outdoor sessions will offer suggestions for fishing techniques, fish identification, casting and water safety. Participants need to bring basic fishing gear; a rod and reel, and tackle.
Goodie bags with fishing tackle samples will be handed out and prizes will be called out every half hour. The first 200 who go through all four sessions will receive a hot dog, chips and water. The camp stove will be fired up, too, with fish samples available. Sponsors include Scheels, North Liberty Parks and Recreation Department, and the Iowa DNR.
Iowa’s free fishing weekend has been popular as a family activity that gets kids outdoors and doesn’t require a big investment in equipment, time or money. “Just a fishing rod and reel, light (4 to 6 pound) test line, a small bobber, hook and piece of nightcrawler are all you need to catch fish,” said Paul Sleeper, DNR fisheries biologist. “Several species– crappies, bass and bluegill– are moving into their spawn, or just coming off it. That makes it easier to fish from shore; just cast out a few feet over rock or brush and wait for a bite.”
It is a great opportunity to introduce youngsters to fishing, although the key is to keep the session short. “Pack snacks, and plan on other activities, too. A coloring book or other toys are great sidelights, if the young angler loses attention after awhile. Fishing near a playground or other attraction is also a good idea,” suggests DNR information specialist Joe Wilkinson. “That way, when you mention fishing again, they remember what a great time they had outdoors; not necessarily how many fish they might have caught.”