Editor’s note: The News Bulletin will run “Angler Education with Ernie Martin,” a series with the Crestview High School Outdoor Education teacher, beginning with Wednesday’s edition. Martin will offer tips on where to catch fish in the six-part series.
CRESTVIEW — This year’s Crestview Parks and Recreation Department fishing camp at Twin Hills Park featured a twist.
There was no new instructor to replace veteran teacher Ernie Martin, and youngsters hooking a blue gill or bass wore smiles as wide as ever.
However, this year’s camp ran 6-8 p.m., as opposed to the morning slot it had occupied for more than five years.
“Talking to some of the parents, they don’t have summers off like some of us educators,” Martin said. “That morning-fishing deal was tough on a lot of them.
“I think the kids here are enjoying it. They’ve been getting up early going to school every day, so why not a change of plans? If everybody likes it this year, then we may do it again next year at the same time.”
The evening camp allowed parents to participate, too, Martin said.
“The dads come out (to be with their children) and it’s a bonding time,” he said. “Until I was 13 years old, when my father passed away, our bonding time was out on the lake fishing. It was a wonderful experience, and I’ll have the memories for the rest of my life."
Greg Hug joined his son Braden.
“I wanted to spend time with the boy,” he said. “Having it in the evening is convenient. Normally, time is a little tight so we don’t get out as much as we want.”
Safety and fun
Tuesday, the camp kicked off when Jaynie Darby caught the first fish.
In the first hour, the children hooked more turtles than fish, but as the sun sank behind trees, fish started to bite and the happy anglers started reeling them in.
Martin said Twin Hills Park’s ponds hold several species of fish ranging from blue gill and bass to some carp. The camp taught techniques for catching different kinds of fish.
The most important things stressed were safety and having fun, he said.
“Once the kids start catching the blue gill and learn how to take them off the hook, I’ll let them do more of it for themselves,” Martin said. “We teach them hook safety, how to bait a hook, the types of species we catch. It’s just general pond fishing 101 and just coming out here and having some fun.”
Appreciating the outdoors
The campers received a surprise Tuesday, when Jim Martino from Bass Pro Shops in Destin arrived with T-shirts for all of them.
Bass Pro Shops was happy to provide the gifts to the campers, Martin said.
“We have to get the kids involved in good things like fishing and enjoying the outdoors and learning the importance of what little nature we seem to have left,” he said. “They seem to have a lot more electronic babysitter today than we did.
“We need the kids outdoors. We need the next generation as fired up about the outdoors as we are.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.