By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: August 2010
Information and Education Specialist Mike McAllister leads a Family Fishing Clinic at Zebco Casting Pond.
While sport fishing remains a popular form of recreation around the country, angling is in decline in some areas, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which promotes the sport of fishing and aquatic resource awareness through its Aquatic Resources Education Program.
To this end, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has been holding free Family Fishing Clinics statewide for over 20 years. In the Tulsa area, these clinics are currently held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., mid-May through early August, on the grounds of the Oklahoma Aquarium.
Each clinic begins with 30 to 45 minutes of education on topics including fish identification, knot tying, fish cleaning and cooking, fishing tackle use and selection, fishing and water safety, outdoor ethics, pollution, and water quality. “And then we go fishing,” says Mike McAllister, information and education specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Every clinic is at the Zebco Casting Pond on the south end of the Oklahoma Aquarium grounds.”
All the equipment you need is provided by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation: your rod, reel, bait, tackle and anchor. The Zebco Casting Pond is stocked with channel catfish and bluegill. “Being able to eat what you catch is an important part of the fishing experience,” says McAllister. “At our clinics, we allow folks who catch a channel catfish big enough to take it home, and we’ll clean it for them.”
Kids of all ages love the thrill of the catch.
The Family Fishing Clinics are open to the public and free to attend, but preregistration is required because of limited space. To register, call the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at (918) 299-2334.
“We encourage the whole family to come,” says McAllister. “It’s a great event for mom, dad and the kids. Feel free to bring your own non-alcoholic refreshments, a folding chair to sit on, and maybe some bug spray.”
There is no minimum age to participate, although kids under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. McAllister also advises that the educational portion of the clinic may not be interesting for very small children, and parents, grandparents and guardians should be prepared to help them.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is a state agency, but receives no state funding. “We’re entirely self-supporting,” says McAllister. “We generate all our own revenue in order to operate. And we’re supported by a very small portion of the population: the bulk of our income comes from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, which is the best way you can contribute.”
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers hunting education as well. “We’re the agency that provides the hunter education you need to be able to buy a hunting license,” says McAllister. “If you’re interested in the hunting education course, you can find the upcoming schedule on our website.”
If you think sport fishing is something you or your family would be interested in, try one of the free Family Fishing Clinics. This year’s remaining clinics are Tuesday, August 3 and Tuesday, August 10. If you missed them this year, catch them next spring: the clinics start up again in May.
Every fishing clinic is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Zebco Casting Pond on the south end of the Oklahoma Aquarium grounds (300 Aquarium Drive in Jenks). To register for a clinic, call (918) 299-2334. For more information on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, their free Family Fishing Clinics, and their other programs, visit www.wildlifedepartment.com.