Fishing clinic offers education, family time

Gevyn Stockard, 11, of Portales identifies aquatic invertebrae with Josephine Graf, a contract worker for the New Mexico Game and Fish Department during Saturday’s fishing clinic at Oasis State Park. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

Thanks to a stocking of trout, the lake at Oasis State Park had a noticeable population. Despite the weather, Saturday’s free fishing clinic had the same thing.

About 85 children, joined by parents and nearly 30 volunteers, populated the lands and waters of Oasis for Saturday’s 15th annual Kids Free Fishin’ Clinic.

“The fishing clinic is to teach the kids some of the basic skills of fishing,” Park Manager Jim Whary said. “To me, the primary thing is to get the parents out with the kids for a day of fun.”

James Townsend of Clovis could certainly relate.

“I like it because I get some quality time with my papa,” Townsend said. “Even though we have a Greene Acres Park that has a lake, the fish aren’t biting all the time.”

For Townsend, the clinic was a late birthday present — he turned 13 on Friday — but he spent some of his time being the gift-giver. Townsend, who considered the fly-tying station his favorite, was waiting for the next session so he could make a fly for a sibling unable to attend.

Fly-tying was one of several stations featured at the park, and each station gave the participants some knowledge that would either help them with fishing (casting) or help them learn more about the animals in the water (biology, aquatic invertebrates).

“This year, my favorite was the larva station,” said Gevyn Stockard, 11, of Portales. “You actually get to see animals and learn some new science.”

Whary feels an event like the clinic is a good way to introduce kids to the sport, even though about two-thirds of clinic participants have attended in previous years.

“To me, it’s a calming effect,” Whary said of fishing. “Whether you catch a fish or not, it doesn’t really matter. It’s always nicer to catch a fish, but it doesn’t really matter.”

As an intermission, the free lunch was provided by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Portales.

“A lot of these kids don’t get that connection with the (seniors) often,” RSVP Director Laurie Collins said. “The seniors love seeing the kids and the kids love seeing the seniors.”

The weather, with near-freezing temperatures early and slight winds, didn’t seem to put any dent in the attendance, Whary said.