Big opportunity for small fry

Marco Sportfishing Club members helping with the upcoming children’s fishing clinic at Naples Pier are Myron Wittlin, Roger Shavlik, rear, and Gene Stillwell. In the vehicle’s trunk are about 400 rods and reels.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX

Marco Sportfishing Club members helping with the upcoming children’s fishing clinic at Naples Pier are Myron Wittlin, Roger Shavlik, rear, and Gene Stillwell. In the vehicle’s trunk are about 400 rods and reels.

Children under 16 have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of fishing at an all-day clinic to be held this Saturday, April 25, at the Naples pier. The clinic is free, and so are the rods and tackle, which the youngsters get to keep.

Exposing youngsters to the joys of fishing — and the crucial importance of conservation — is the aim of an annual clinic that comes to Naples Pier this Saturday.

Gear is free, as is the clinic, which is open to children 16 and under.

Promoting and preparing for the event are Myron Wittlin, Gene Stillwell and Roger Shavlik of the Marco Sportfishing Club, who’re hoping there’s a good turnout of Marco Island children.

Wittlin said the day begins with instructions at assorted stations, including safety, catch-and-release techniques and a myriad of fishing tips.

“All kids are provided with rods and reels, bait and tackle boxes,” he said.

On hand at the stations will be members of the Marco Sportfishing Club, their Naples counterparts, officials from the Naples Harbour Yacht Club and also from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Laura Almand of NHYC said registration is at 9 a.m. Money for the rods and tackle, she said, comes from funds generated by special licence plates, in this case the “Fish Florida” plates featuring a sailfish as the illustration.

In anticipation of eclipsing last year’s turnout of 325, Wittlin, Stillwell and Shavlik have secured 450 rods, reels and tackle boxes, which they will deliver on the morning.

The events are under the auspices of the Outreach and Education section of the Division of Marine Fisheries Management, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Commission information states that one of the main clinic goals is to create responsible marine resource stewards by teaching children the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems.

Clinic categories are casting, knot tying, tackle, “good angler” and touch tank.

Since 1996, more than 44,000 children and 29,000 parents have participated in the clinics.

Volunteers interested in becoming part of the program should call (850) 488-6058.

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