Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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Free fishing event lures angling pros, newbies to state park

Megan Hix

By Megan Hix
Jan. 13, 2018 at 11:21 p.m.

Cabella Busby, 8, of Lone Star casts her line into Lake Daingerfield on Saturday at Daingerfield State Park as part of Rainbow Trout Free Fishing Weekend.  The event continues today and next Saturday and Sunday.

DAINGERFIELD — It was a family affair for anglers of all ages and skill levels Saturday at Daingerfield State Park.

More than 100 children and adults came out to the park for the first of two "family fishing weekends." Park rangers waived entrance fee and license requirements, provided free bait and loaned out fishing poles to help attract first-time parkgoers.

Park Assistant Superintendent Tammie Posey said the event attracted people during a time of year when the state park doesn't get as many visitors.

"It's just a way to bring the community together," she said. "Especially with the cold weather, it's a pretty good turnout."

Posey said only a handful of fish were caught Saturday, but not for a lack of them in the lake. The park just stocked its Lake Daingerfield with 4,000 rainbow trout for the first time in several years. The fish were supplied with funds from the park, the city, Morris County and Texas Parks and Wildlife.

She said the trout probably needed to "get settled" in their new habitat, but she expects anglers to have better luck as the season progresses.

The day of fishing featured lessons on how to clean and cook fish, plenty of park rangers on hand to answer questions and an educational look at some of the smaller creatures living in the lake.

Rangers scooped up samples with a mesh net and pointed out tiny snails, worms, spiders and other lake-dwellers to a crowd of children.

John Sims, 50, and Sarah Sims, 41, brought their five children with them from Hughes Springs.

John Sims said he hadn't been fishing in years but wanted to get out and enjoy the outdoors. He said his children spent the afternoon running and climbing in the park, as well as enjoying some of the programming.

"It gets people outside and away from their phones — especially kids," he said.

Sarah Sims said she hoped the event helped people learn about the "treasure" in their own backyards.

"It's great that they do this because there are people who have lived here their whole lives who have never checked it out," she said of the state park.

Sarah Sims, who originally is from Maine, said the cold weather was nothing compared to the chill of ice fishing, and her family couldn't easily be deterred from coming out.

"We try to find the places to go and enjoy, and this is one of them," she said.

Gregory Huff, 47, of Daingerfield and his wife spent much of the day fishing on a dock at the park. He said he comes to fish there often but was lured by the opportunity to catch a trout.

Even armed with homemade bait and decades of fishing experience, Huff didn't have much luck Saturday.

"This morning, I didn't see anyone catch anything, but they looked to be having fun," he said. "(The event) gives people a chance to come out and see if they like it or not, and then maybe they will come back."

Amy Wood, 33, often makes the drive in from Atlanta, Texas, to fish at the state park. She said she enjoys the peaceful feeling of waiting for a bite.

Wood was one of the few to make a catch.

"I've sat out here for hours and not gotten a bite, so this was better," she said.

The free fishing event continues 10 a.m. to noon today and next Saturday and Sunday.



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