SPRINGFIELD, IL – Youngsters can learn to fish and enjoy their time outdoors this summer by attending a free Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Urban Fishing Clinic, scheduled for 40 locations throughout the state. The IDNR also provides fishing opportunities to anglers of all ages through the popular Access to Fishing Initiative in which fishing gear can be borrowed at dozens of locations statewide.
“The free fishing clinics held in communities throughout Illinois help introduce young people to the fun of fishing,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. “Once they give fishing a try, we think youngsters will be hooked on a great way to spend time outdoors.”
The free Urban Fishing Program clinics are targeted toward children ages 16 and younger, but anyone interested in learning basic fishing techniques may attend.
“The Urban Fishing Program is one of the most popular programs we offer,” said IDNR Central Illinois Program Coordinator Herb Dreier. “Each year we provide thousands of children with a chance to enjoy fishing and help them to experience nature and the outdoors.”
Fishing clinic instructors present 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, and how to handle and return fish to the water. As part of each clinic, participants are provided with rods, reels, bait and tackle for 90 minutes of catch-and-release fishing.
Urban Fishing Clinics are presented on weekdays during the late spring and summer months at 40 locations throughout the state. In addition to the scheduled clinics outlined below, fishing clinics can also be arranged for scouts, seniors, civic clubs and groups with special needs.
Science and physical education teachers interested in starting a fishing program in their schools can also contact the IDNR Urban Fishing Coordinator in their area to get more information.
“Fishing is a great activity any time of year, but it is especially fun for PE classes and other school groups toward the end of the school year,” Dreier said.
The Illinois Urban Fishing Program was introduced in Chicago in 1985 to teach individuals of all ages to fish, to provide better local fishing opportunities, and to give participants an understanding of and a greater appreciation for natural resources. The backbone of the program consists of free summer fishing clinics that include fishing at nearby stocked ponds. Urban Fishing Program coordinators also hold non-fishing Conservation Education Programs and visit schools during the fall, winter, and spring to teach and promote fishing and the appreciation of natural resources.
The IDNR Access to Fishing program provides loaner fishing gear to anglers of all ages. The loan program provides the opportunity to borrow rods, reels and tackle packs. Participating loaner locations include many public libraries, park and forest preserve districts, bait shops, recreation departments and other locations. A list of sites offering access to fishing gear is available by checking the web site at www.ifishillinois.org or by phoning the IDNR Urban Fishing Program at 217/782-6424.
The schedule of 2007 Urban Fishing clinic dates, locations and contact information is listed below:
June 21 - August 24
Chicago Park District Lagoons
(Contact: Brenda McKinney, 847/294-4137)
June 14 - August 10
Riverside Park, Moline (call Moline Park District, 309/736-5714)
Butterworth Park, East Moline (Thursdays only - call 309/755-5224)
Glen Oak Park Lagoon, Peoria (call Peoria Park District, 309/681-2865)
Levings Lake, Rockford (call 815/625-2968)
Big Pond, Boone County Conservation District, Belvidere (call 815/624-2968)
Mill Race Ponds, Belvidere (call 815/625-2968)
(Contact: Dan Sallee, 815/625-2968)
June 4 - August 3
Miller Park, Bloomington (call 309/434-2260)
Crystal Lake Park, Urbana (June 12 – August 4 only; call 217/367-1544)
Fairview Park, Decatur (call 217/422-5911)
Washington Park, Springfield (call 217/753-0700)
(Contact: Herb Dreier, 217/935-6860 ext. 238 or 217/622-4266)
June 4 - August 3
Veterans Park Lake, Mt. Vernon (June 4 - July 3 only, call 618/242-6890)
Foundation Park Pond, Centralia (July 5 - August 3 only, call 618/532-4311)
SIU Campus Lake, Carbondale (call 618/453-6088)
Jones Lake at Kenneth Hall Park, East St. Louis (call 618/874-3600 or 618/444-0388)
Gordon Moore Park Lake, Alton (call 618/462-1181)
(Contact: Mark Yehling, 618/462-1181)
Illinois State Fair
August 10 - 19
Conservation World – Five clinics daily
(Contact: Herb Dreier, 217/935-6860 x 238 or 217/622-4266)
Du Quoin State Fair
August 25 - September 3
Conservation Village Aquatic Area – Daily Clinics
(Contact: Mark Yehling, 618/462-1181)
Southern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days
September 22 - 23
IDNR Aquatic Area, John A. Logan College, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. both days
Several additional clinic opportunities will again be available this year. Prospective participants should phone ahead for information on the following clinic locations and schedules:
Northwest Illinois Clinics
Lost Nation Lake, Dixon (Jerry Sellers, 815/652-3761)
Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Camp (LOMC), Oregon (Tim Benedict, 815/732-2220)
Central Illinois Clinics
Charleston Park and Recreation Department, Charleston (217/345-6897)
Eastview Christian Church, Bloomington (309/662-9376)
Kennekuk Cove County Park, Danville (217/442-1691)
Human Resources Center, Paris (217/465-4118)
McLean County Conservation District, Hudson (309/726-2022)
Pittsfield Park District, Pittsfield (217/285-4484)
Quincy Parks Department, Quincy (217/223-7703)
Taylorville Park District, Taylorville (217/824-3110)
Watseka Park District, Watseka (815/432-3931)
Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton (217/935-0373)
Southern Illinois Clinics
Granite City Park District, Granite City (618/877-3059)
O’Fallon Parks and Recreation, O’Fallon (618/624-0139)
Shawnee Community College “Fish Tales”, Ullin (618/524-2270)