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Families coming together for fish and critters

Sarah Burns photo

Masha Scheele

Screams could be heard across the lake whenever a fish was caught during last year’s Kids Can Catch event, while families hovered around to see if it was in fact a fish on the end of the line or just weeds.

“I’m looking forward to catching a fish or two. There weren’t too many fish caught last year but you could hear them scream ‘I caught one’ across the lake,” said Jackie Delves, who attended the event last year with her two daughters.

In her daughters’ eyes, the critter catching was the biggest highlight and they look forward to doing it again this weekend.

“It’s really unique, different from many other events. A lot of families getting together and it’s just really a multi-purpose day of learning to fish, hiking around Kelley’s Bathtub, treats from Good Dog Catering, and collecting creatures,” said Delves.

Fishing mentors will be lakeside to teach the basics of fishing, helping kids set up and cast their rods, reel in their catch, and handle fish safely on July 6.

Mentors will explain to them what to do when they catch a fish they’re able to keep and what the regulations are around having to release certain fish.

“We will have the regulation information there and [representatives from] Alberta Parks will be there if they have questions,” said Jenna Altrogge, assistant manager at Hinton FCSS, who is organizing Kids Can Catch.

Kids Can Catch is hosted at Kelley’s Bathtub in William A. Switzer Provincial Park in partnership between the FCSS Growing Great Kids coalition and the Alberta Conservation Association.

After a successful event last year, where 300 people participated, FCSS applied and was awarded another grant to fund the program.

“It was really successful last year, and we’re hoping to make it an annual event,” said Altrogge.

Representatives of Alberta Parks organize the pond dip sessions where kids can catch critters with nets and talk about what lives in the water.

While fishing will still be done within the parameters of the fishing regulations, the event falls on a weekend where no fishing license is required, making the event completely free.

The goal of the event is to support the community engagement pillar of the Growing Great Kids coalition, through encouraging an understanding and appreciation of the natural environment, explained Altrogge.

“Building respectful relationships with the natural environment through fishing exploration education and having some adventures out there. That’s the main goal, to help families learn about what there is to do in this area and have those opportunities to try things out without having to pay for them,” said Altrogge.

Altrogge hopes the community becomes more engaged in other activities offered in the Hinton area through the day program.

Sarah Burns photo

“[I hope] kids take away some general appreciation for our area here, and hopefully some skills in fishing and respectful interaction with our environment,” said Altrogge.

Anybody is welcome to participate and organizers will have rods and equipment available to use for everyone that shows up.

“It’s great to be out in nature and see what their creative mindset can do with as little as sticks and acorns,” said Delves.

The free family event on July 6 runs from 11 am to 3 pm.