June 2007

Fishing Day At Lynx Lake

‘Look, Mom; I Caught A Fish!’

By Mary Young

The sounds of fishing filled the air Saturday, May 19 at Lynx Lake in Prescott. The whir of the lines as they played out, the kerplunk of the bobber hitting the water, the cries of the children:

            “Look, Mommy. I caught a fish!”
            “Did you see that? That fish jacked my worm!”

It was the third annual event for abused and neglected children sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) office of Yavapai County.

“A few years ago I participated in a similar event for disabled children in Phoenix,” said Don Buckley, wildlife manager for Game and Fish. “It was so rewarding seeing the smiles on their faces, I wanted to do something like that here.”

The first year about 30 children and their families participated. This year 90 registered, but Buckley felt, for their safety, it should be limited to 75.

One end of the lake is cordoned off to give the children their own place. A net is placed across the edge of a cove to hold in the fish, and then 3,600 rainbow trout from the Page Springs Hatchery are stocked at that end. When the children are finished, the net is removed, and the fish swim into the rest of the lake.

Buckley contacted Shakespeare, a manufacturer of poles, who offered them at cost. He obtained funds from the Kiwanis and from the Arizona Game Rangers Lodge 71 to pay for the poles that the children took home. In the past, Walmart provided tackle boxes but, Buckley said an oversight on his part prevented that this year.

“It’s one thing to give them an opportunity to fish but, without a pole, they can’t enjoy the experience again,” he said.

Before passing out the poles, he explained how to carry them safely and about catch and release fishing. They could keep fish that swallowed the hook — with a limit of three.

Doug Manny coordinated the event for CASA.

“About the time Don (Buckley) had the idea for an event like this, our office was thinking the same thing. We managed to get together, and it’s been great for the kids. It’s a family affair with foster and biological parents here.”

Manny said the first year they had lunches for the participants, but no one wanted to stop fishing in order to eat.

“Now we take the food and water to them.” Basha’s underwrote some of the cost of the food.

Volunteers helped distribute the food as well as patrolling the area to make sure no one falls in the water or gets hurt. Manny said that, outside of a hook in a finger, there have been no injuries.

Prescott Fire Department provides an engine for the day in the event of any problems, and one year was called on in an unanticipated fashion.

“The stocking truck with the fish was about a half hour late,” Buckley said. “The firemen let the kids try on their clothes and climb all over the truck. They didn’t even notice the fish were late.”

Arizona Game and Fish is available to help with other special events. Buckley said he has held special fishing days for military veterans and Girl Scouts, among others. An application is available online at www.azgfd.gov.

Mary E. Young is the author of Arizona Waterways, a pocket guide to boating and fishing in Arizona: mary@kandmpress.com.