Getting kids hooked on fishing

Area youngsters can learn how to fish properly at free clinics.

Area youngsters can learn how to fish properly at free clinics.

LANSING — Mid-Michigan Steelheaders has joined forces with the Dept. of Natural Resources and other agencies to provide youth fishing clinics during the month of May.

Based in Lansing, the Mid-Michigan Steelheaders’ effort aims to get kids of all ages and experience levels interested in fishing with its first-ever Dr. Bill Earl Youth Fishing Program. The free fishing clinics are designed for kids ages 5-16, and will take place in Lansing on May 7, 14 and 21, all Saturdays.

To take part in the program, all kids must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or other responsible adult.

“By requiring a parent or guardian to accompany the youth, we expose two generations to the inexpensive, healthy, outdoor fishing activities available near home,” said John Hesse, youth education chairperson for the Mid-Michigan Steelheaders.

“Michigan has remarkable water resources that we urge all our citizens to enjoy and protect, so we’re excited to take part in this opportunity for kids to learn more about the sport of fishing and get actively involved in conservation,” said Department of Natural Resources Director Rodney Stokes. “Programs like this can begin to address the steady decline in the numbers of people who fish and hunt and the limited time that children spend outdoors.”

The first clinic takes place May 7 at Hawk Island Park. Clinics also will be held at Lake Lansing Park-South on May 14 and at the Lansing Adado Riverfront Park on May 21. Pre-registration is mandatory for all sessions and there is no registration on the day of the event. All pre-registered participants must then check in between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Each session ends at noon.

The clinic will set each child up to learn basic fishing skills such as casting, knot-tying, rigging for different types of fishing, regulations and fishing ethics. Trained volunteers will assist the kids as they learn the skills.

“We look forward to continuing, and possibly expanding, the program in future years and want to thank not only all of our partners but also the many individual donors and small businesses who contributed funds to make this possible,” Hesse said.

Among the agencies involved are the DNR, Michigan State University, Project F.I.S.H., Ingham County Parks, Lansing City Parks and Recreation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Fenner Nature Center, Trout Unlimited, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the Big Nature Lesson Programs and others.

The program’s namesake, Dr. William “Bill” Earl, was an inspiration to thousands of youth and adults during his lifetime. A lifelong resident of Howell with a passion for the outdoors, fishing, hunting and farming, Earl was a member of the Mid- Michigan Steelheaders and chaired its youth education committee. He passed away in July 2010.

Mid-Michigan Steelheaders is a local chapter of the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishing Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the general public on improving, preserving and promoting sport fishing in the Great Lakes and their tributary streams and rivers. For more information, contact John Hesse at or midmich.michigansteelheaders.o rg. L.P.

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