Last Thursday afternoon, over 150 elementary students were introduced to sport fishing at Green Valley Lake.
Children from Pine, Tonto Basin, Payson Christian and Julia Randall schools left the customary classrooms and had two hours of outdoor education around the lake, where they tried their hand at catching fish.
Prior to the afternoon of fishing, the Arizona Game and Fish Department actually went into each school and did a one-hour seminar on fish of the Arizona waterways. Techniques of catching fish were also a topic covered with the students before the hands-on trip to the lake.
For many of the children, this was their first opportunity to try their hand at sport fishing. With the number of students who participated, lots of volunteer adult help was needed.
Bobbers and bait were flying through the air with each cast. The only things hooked were a few trees and plenty of hungry rainbow trout.
The monthly stocking by the Arizona Game and Fish Department took place the previous day and the Mogollon Sporting Association (MSA) donated the money necessary for another complete stocking of catchable rainbows, as well as a healthy number of lunker trout in the three- to six-pound range.
The stage was set for adults to give fishing lessons and students to succeed at the goal of catching a fish.
It didn't take long for the first fish to be reeled in, which added to the excitement. For many of the students, this was their first time with a rod and reel in their hands and catching a fighting rainbow trout was an added bonus.
In an activity of this magnitude in outdoor education, volunteer help is a must.
Numerous anglers from the Payson area graciously donated their expertise in making the fishing day a great success. Beyond the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Mogollon Sports Association, representatives from the Arizona Deer Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Bighorn Sheep Society, Star Valley Veterinary Clinic, Optimist Club, Payson Roundup, Wal-Mart, Highway 188 Tackle and The Tackle Box all were a part of the successful outing.
Teaching young people the value of outdoor education has a tremendous impact on lifelong learning skills.
Last Thursday afternoon, quite a number of students got "hooked on fishing" and no doubt will be asking Mom or Dad to take them fishing this weekend.
Take a child fishing. Invest in their future. Enjoy God's creation.