Young Anglers Reel in Fun at Fishing Camp
Casting about for something to do this summer?
Dozens of Hillsborough County children and teens are exploring the nuances of fishing at a series of two-week camps at E.G. Simmons Conservation Park.
They're learning how to tie fishing knots, clean their catch for a meal, cast a net, unhook and properly release a fish, and kayak, among other angling skills. The kids also hear about regulations that apply to fishing in Florida, and enjoy games and making crafts.
Most important: They're having fun.
There are two sessions for ages 9-11, and two for ages 12-15. And besides Fishing Camp, there is a Skating Camp and an Eco-Adventure Camp for kids who love outdoor activities. Some spots remain available at these Specialty Summer Camps, which continue through July.
On a recent Friday morning, about 40 of the younger Fishing Camp participants wielded spinning reels and rods, while others practiced padding kayaks along the Ruskin park's Tampa Bay shoreline.
Chelsea Collins, 9, caught a large needlefish on a hook baited with a piece of shrimp while her sister, Hailey, 11, and fellow campers also tried their luck. During the camp's first week, kids reeled in mangrove snapper, speckled trout, lady fish, toad fish, blue crabs, and a small snook.
Mitchell Richison, 11, saw lots of wildlife - fish, birds, and raccoons - while paddling a kayak along the shallow coast with other campers and counselors. He says kayaking probably is his favorite camp activity.
How does Fishing Camp compare to playing video games? "With video games, you're just locked onto a TV," Mitchell says. "At Fishing Camp, you're learning stuff."