Heading to the ol' fishin' hole

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2002

If Norman Rockwell were to paint a scene of life on the Kenai Peninsula, you could almost bet that it would feature youngsters on a hike with fishing poles in hand. That real world portrait marched through Soldotna last week, as members of the Boys & Girls Club summer fishing program made their way to Soldotna Creek Park in hopes of landing a mighty Sockeye salmon.

Led by Diane Bernard, with the After the Bell program of the Boys and Girls Club at Soldotna Elementary School,kids participated in Alaska's favorite outdoor activity. "These kids all had to take a fishing safety test and know the basic rules of fishing before they could come along, and we take a different group each week," said Bernard. While expectations were high of bringing home a salmon for supper, other aspects of fishing on the Kenai River were also being learned by the next generation of sport fishers, "We also practice catch and release and some of the kids want to see how many they can release so that the salmon runs will stay strong in the future," added Bernard.

Many of the kids in the group were already experienced fishers, and had some tips to pass along, "If I find bait on the ground, I use it," said Christian, "I brush all the dirt and stuff off it so I don't have to walk all the way back, cuz if you have to walk back for more bait, the fish might swim away and someone else will catch it." Garrett's advice was to make the fish mad, "If he gets mad, then he might hit your hook."

Summer programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula have been serving hundreds of kids throughout the summer with programs ranging from soccer to ceramics, bicycling safety to fishing. First Lady Laura Bush recently accepted the honorary Chairmanship for National Kids Day. Established last year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Kids Day was launched as a day to foster relationships between adults and children by educating them about the importance of spending meaningful time together. "I applaud Boys & Girls Clubs of America for establishing a day that honors and strengthens the relationship between adults and children," Mrs. Bush said, "This is a day to reinforce that children matter, that their ideas and dreams are important and worthwhile. I hope it becomes one of the greatest days of the summer for the children of America." Sunday August 4th will be the second National Kids Day in which everyone is encouraged to set the day aside to make a difference in the life of a child. For information locally about the Boys & Girls Clubs, call 283-2682.

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