It looked like a photograph from a fishing magazine. The scene at Hank Anderson III Community Park on Saturday, Nov. 2, was red and blue fishing poles leaned against tall trees, pink worms in a small blue containers and tackle boxes stuffed with bright red bobbers, shiny hooks and fishing line.
For Craig Walker, a 40-year-old Durham resident, the spread was just the beginning of a father/son day at Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department’s Youth Fishing Clinic.
“I knew that my son would want to go fishing,” Walker said. “This was the first Saturday I wasn’t training for a marathon, so I thought this would be the perfect Saturday to come out.”
Walker said his son, Simon, developed an interest in fishing after his uncle gave him a fishing pole for his eighth birthday during the summer. Walker, who grew up near Lake Ontario in New York, said he did not know much about fishing and decided to bring Simon to the event so they could learn together.
“I’ve caught one fish in my life,” Walker said with a laugh. “I’ve gone out a few times with some family members, but growing up on the water you would think I would have gone out more.”
Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department supplies fishing poles and bait for the fishing clinics, which it offers six times a year. The department also hires an instructor to teach kids how to fish free of charge.
Shayne McKinley, a 59-year-old Calvander resident, has taught fishing techniques at the event since it began more than 10 years ago. McKinley said although the event is geared toward children, parents also attend to develop a common hobby with their children.
“Some of the parents really don’t know anything,” McKinley said. “I teach them more than I teach the kids.”
McKinley said most of kids who attend the clinics have never fished before and have misconceptions about what equipment to use. The instructor encourages kids and parents to use live worms and simple bobbers instead of brightly-colored lures for bait. McKinley said beginners do not need expensive equipment to learn how to fish.
“I tell them to go buy a $30 rod-and-reel set, hooks and some sinkers,” he said. “Don’t go buying the whole store – up with every shiny thing in it.”
Buck Tharrington, 22, of Raleigh, works part time at Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department and assisted McKinley during the fall fishing clinics. Tharrington, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, said he believes people can learn a lot from the instructor.
“He knows his stuff, and he’s good with kids,” Tharrington said. “Whether it’s been volleyball, baseball or fishing, all of the instructors I’ve worked with have been top-notch in Carrboro.”
Tharrington said fishing is more than a sport or a pastime. Learning how to fish allows children to develop life skills, he explained.
“Fishing teaches patience. You don’t get everything you want in life,” Tharrington said. “Kids need to realize not every day is going to be really good. There are some things you control, and some things you can’t.”
Although a parent reeled in the only fish, Simon Walker, 8, almost made a catch early in the day. Despite the lack of bites, Simon said he learned a lot from McKinley at the clinic. The instructor taught him how to put a bobber on his line, how to cast and how to reel in a fish properly.
“Once your bobber starts jiggling, you start reeling kind of slow,” Simon said proudly. “When the bobber goes all the way under, you jerk your pole. That gets the hook stuck on the fish’s lip.”
Tharrington said he enjoys the event because it allows him to expose kids like Simon to a hobby they may have never considered before. Tharrington said he hopes Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department will continue to have fishing clinics for years to come.
“I think this a great event for Carrboro to put on,” he said. “The department just likes to do a variety of things. Fishing is something everyone can come out and enjoy with family and the kids.”