Families get hooked on fishing

Florence STEP’s Fred Petersen helps a first-time angler show off her freshly caught fish. Petersen cleaned 67 fish during last Saturday's fishing event. A total of 30 fishing poles were loaned to participants. (courtesy photo)

Saturday, Honeyman State Park was host to the annual Free Family Fishing Day at Cleawox Lake. The event was sponsored by Oregon State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Florence Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP) and included loaner fishing poles with free bait, fish print T-shirts for kids to make, a hot dog lunch provided by the U.S. Forest Service, and fun contests for children and parents.

Also that day, no fishing license was required and parking fees were waived during the event, which ran from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

STEP volunteers were on hand to help teach the use of the fishing poles, how to bait hooks, assist with trout fishing as well as cleaning the day's catches.

Long-time STEP volunteer Fred Petersen began offering a fish-cleaning station more than two decades ago, after noticing a lot of single mothers attending the event with their children but not knowing how to clean their children’s catches.

“Over the years, I’ve probably cleaned more than 30,000 fish during this event,” he said on Saturday. “That’s a lot of fish, and a lot of kids who we hope have learned how to fish properly.”

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