Flagler County, FL – Usually drawing several hundred kids, the annual Flagler Sportfishing Club’s free kids fishing clinic was a bit lighter this year but for organizers, that’s ok. Able to spend even more time working with the kids, every eye swiveled when the squeal of delight was heard and a little fish was reeled in off the Intracoastal Waterway on Saturday.
Spread out with more room to park and work with the kids, the Club hosted this year’s event at Hershel King Park.
Familiar to those with a boat, the quietly spacious park is not as well-known to families. However, Cub Scout #281 mom of three Erin Botelho said she and her troop had been there before, but never attended the free fishing clinic. Receiving a free rod and reel courtesy of Fish Florida and a picnic lunch courtesy of club benefactors, it was a memorable, family-friendly day.
“We were told about this fishing event, and it’s really great. It’s free and the kids have learned a lot about knot tying, casting and being a good citizen to the environment,” she said.
The clinic also had unintended consequences. While connecting families at the event to the sport of fishing, it also started new relationships between Palm Coast families who were surprised to learn they were neighbors.
“It’s gets them out of the house, gets some exercise, and our boys live near each other, so now they have a new friend to hang out with because we came here,” said Renee Simms.
With a motto of creating anglers for life at the youth clinic, Club president Chris Christian said teaching the basics laid the foundation for just that.
“We teach them six different stations – how to tie knots, how to be nice to fish, the environment, equipment, how to cast and throw a cast net. We kind of run them through the stations then bring them out here and let them fish for real,” said Christian proudly.
“It’s a great day for the members to take part in this and watch the kids get so excited. When they catch a fish, they get real excited,” he said.
Watching the kids toss a line eagerly over the park’s dock, it was a nice break from a day at work for Club board member Man Bui, who helps the organization out with policy.
“Today I was staffing the rules and regulations table teaching kids how to comply with the FWC regulations, how to measure the fish, how to handle the fish, catch, photo and release,” said Bui about the life lessons.
“You know, you’ve got to preserve the habitat so you can continue to fish and we can instill the values with the kids.”
The annual free kids fishing clinic is just one of many activities hosted by the organization throughout the year.
The Flagler Sportfishing Club will host their new member’s clinic on August 7th, at the Palm Coast VFW at 8 am and the inaugural Trash Tournament on August 21st. For details, visit https://flaglersportfishing.com/.
Featured Photo: Another little guy gets a second chance when anglers put him back during the Flagler Sportfishing Club’s annual free kids clinic at Hershel King Park in Palm Coast on Saturday, July 24, 2021.