MT. VERNON — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is offering free urban fishing workshops at Veterans Park until Sept 30.
“I think every kid needs to know about the outdoors,” said Kenneth Sodko, IDNR conservation educational representative. “I know we are in the computer age but there is more to life than video games. If kids would just get out in their backyard they would be amazed what wildlife they could see.”
According to IDNR, more than 1,500 structured fishing clinics are being held by volunteer individuals, employees of state or local parks, and recreation department employees. The clinics are held at sites with a lake where fishing is available.
The main focus of the clinics is to present
children with information on fish and other aquatic life, rules and regulations for fishing, as well as basic instruction on baiting a hook, tying a knot, casting, important tactics on how to catch fish, and finally how to handle and return fish to the water.
As part of each clinic, participants are provided with rods, reels, bait and tackle to use during the class. The class is 90 minutes of catch-and- release fishing and education.
“Watching the kids fish is what gives me the most enjoyment,” Sodko said.
Sodko has been working with kids for about 25 years and over time he has collected a few funny stories about children who have been in his class.
“I had a little gal in my class named Annabella and she refused to touch a worm, so one time I had her look off in the distance and I dropped a worm in her hand. I said now did that worm hurt you and she told me no. After that all she wanted to do is bait hooks for everyone,” Sodko said.
Mike Sendelbach, a local resident, said he thinks the fishing clinic is a great program and is glad that there are free activities for children to do.