Through the ages, we’ve tried rods, reels, nets, traps and trawlers, even fish-finding sonar. Still, fish large and small play it “coy,” and resist.
Even offered a free meal and thus ensnared, they seem resolute, as witnessed by participants in Carrboro Recreation and Parks’ free catch-and-release fishing clinic held earlier this month at Carrboro’s Hank Anderson Park pond.
While such clinics typically provide a basic appreciation for the activity, larger catfish and carp were bending poles on this day.
“What usually happens is that kids get all excited about these little teeny fish they catch,” instructor Shayne McKinley said.
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“I’ve had some clinics where some kids actually get bored catching so many little fish. But I’ve got (a fish) in my guppy tank the size of some of those. But these they’re catching today will test you a little bit.”
It was a fact soon discovered by 8-“almost 9”-year old Watts Nolan, who on his first day of freshwater fishing caught stubborn catfish after catfish.
“I liked catching the catfish,” Nolan observed, noting that the fish put up an impressive fight. “Yeah, one or two of those catfish did not like my point of view.”
“We caught some carp. I’d never even seen a carp here,” McKinley said. “Usually, kids might catch a small catfish on occasion. Today, that’s been the primary fish they’re catching.”
Learning the basics
Carrboro Recreation and Parks typically hosts such clinics during the late spring and early summer. At the clinics, both parents and children learn the basics about fishing, including different equipment, techniques, sites and regulations. The two-hour clinics are free, and supplies and bait are furnished.
“We’d never done this in August,” McKinley said. “I asked, ‘Why cancel the July and August clinics?’ That’s a great time to fish.”
While torrential rain is thought to be bad for fishing, in that it washes bugs and nutrients from the shore into the water so that fish are well fed, heavy rains the night before had no adverse effect on that August Saturday’s fishing.
“That was always my theory too, but nothing makes sense,” McKinley said, laughing. “The more I fish, the less I know about fishing.”
The clinic is just one of many fishing events with which Carrboro Recreation and Parks is involved.
The agency helps to sponsor the popular annual Fishing Rodeo at Strayhorn’s Pond each June in Orange County. Carrboro also offered five-day fishing camps for kids ages 8 to 12 on weekdays in June and again in July. Fishing clinics like the one at Carrboro Recreation and Parks were also offered in June and July, and will be again in September.
All involved were pleased with the latest clinic, including Carrboro Recreation and Parks’ Beth Gruesbeck, who served as the town of Carrboro’s liaison at the event.
“I’m helping to host this,” Gruesbeck said. “Then there’s Shayne and his son Patrick. His sons come and help, which has been great. This has been tremendous.”
Also on hand was Chenxi Qiu, 10, accompanied by his father Peng Qiu and mother Chunyan Shan.
Chenxi – his nickname is Charlie – took part in a summer camp with outdoor activities through Carrboro Recreation, and the family found information online about the fishing clinic, Shan said. “We came here from China just 10 months ago,” she said. “This is fun, and Charlie has already caught two fish.”
‘Fine place to fish’
Watts Nolan’s father, Shawn, said he and his son learned about the free clinic on the Carrboro Recreation and Parks website.
“It’s on the recreation site,” he said. “We saw that it was free, and they supplied rods and reels and everything. Plus, you can check equipment out at the Century Center. And this is a fine place to fish.”
Carrboro’s fishing instructors will offer another free fishing clinic for kids 5-15 at Hank Anderson Park Pond on Saturday, Sept. 17. Call-in registration is required at 919-918-7364.
Once “hooked,” young anglers can try their hand at fishing at Lake Michael in Efland (no fee) or Lake Orange (permit required). The Eno River also flows through Orange County. Fishing is also allowed at the Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake, where anglers typically catch crappie, brim and the occasional bass or catfish. The Cane Creek Reservoir even boasts a new fishing pier.
In the meantime, fishermen will keep engaging in that timeless tug-of-war, pulling on rods while fish pull back, and it’s likely to remain so for a long time.
A state fishing license is required for anyone 16 or older. Licenses can be purchased by mail from the N.C. Wildlife Commission and at Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and at many convenience stores where the commission’s diamond symbol is displayed outside. Fishing tackle loaner programs are also offered at many locations with commission signs. For more, visit NCWildlife.org.
For information about OWASA lakes, go to the recreation link at OWASA.org, call Lakes Warden Johnny Riley at 919-942-5790, or Senior Assistant Lake Warden Bob Glosson at 919-942-8007.