Youth prepare for fishing derby on Saturday

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[June 10, 2014]  LINCOLN - The Lincoln Park District hosted the annual Lincoln D.A.R.E./Nathan Turner Memorial Fishing Clinic on Tuesday evening. Once again Herb Dryer from the Illinois Department of Conservation presented the class. Herb and Roy Logan of the Park District estimated that this was the 15th year the clinic has been held. Nathan Turner’s family is also a sponsor of the clinic for kids and adults.

Nancy Turner, Nathan’s mom, started the event by explaining that the fishing clinic is held each year in honor of Nathan and to bring the joy of fishing to families. Nathan was a lifelong fisherman and member of the Park District. She said Nathan would have been proud of the wonderful program.

Herb Dryer is a lifelong advocate of fishing. “It is a hobby boys and girls can enjoy for life,” he said. “Families can have fun together anywhere, and you don’t have to have a lot of fancy equipment.”  Dryer stressed that safety is of prime importance when fishing. A person needs to be aware of their environment and be very careful when casting. If there are a lot of other people in the area, a person may have to modify their cast to ensure the hook doesn’t catch on a person. “Holding the pole vertically against your body when removing a fish is important,” Dryer said. “It ensures that no one will step on your gear as might happen if you place it on the ground.”  He also mentioned that some fish have sharp spines so knowing what kind of fish has been caught and how to hold it safely is important to avoid getting jabbed with a needle-like spine. 

Dryer said that catching a fish is exciting, the most satisfying part of fishing. To this end, having the correct equipment is vital. Bluegill, the Illinois state fish, is a popular fish to catch, but they have a very small mouth. If that is your quarry, then a very small hook, a tiny piece of bait, and a small bobber are essential. Dryer said he is an impatient fisherman. If he doesn’t get a bite in thirty seconds or so, he will gently move his line a few feet to test another area. The small fish like to hide in weeds and branches to avoid larger fish, so knowing where to cast is vital. “It’s all about catching fish,” Dryer said. “When you get a bite, tug gently on the pole to set the hook, and then reel it in.” 

After a demonstration of how to tie a hook to a fishing line using the improved clinch knot, Dryer passed out large hooks and line for everyone to practice. Kids and their parents put their heads together to practice knot tying. 

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Finally, Herb Dryer talked about the ethical issues involved with fishing. Because many areas have limits on the size of fish that can be caught and kept, it is essential to know the State of Illinois rules for each species of fish. Therefore, being able to identify fish and having a measuring device handy are important. “We want to make sure we maintain a healthy fish population for the future, so releasing undersize fish is important,” he said. “Also, we don’t want to keep fish we have caught when it is spawning season for that species.” Dryer also stressed that it is important never to throw live bait fish in a pond or stream. They can contaminate the water with unwanted species. “And, clean up the area where you have been fishing before you leave,” he said. 

This Saturday, kids and their parents will get to put all of the knowledge they learned at the fishing clinic to good use at the Nathan Turner Youth Fishing Derby at Hickory Lane Campground in Atlanta. The free event will have lots of fishing poles for the kids to use and help from expert volunteers. The event runs from 9:00 a.m. to noon. 


Nathan Turner was a young leader serving his community near and far as a Lincoln alderman and involved in international humanitarian outreach at the time of his untimely death in 2010.   

Resolution honoring Alderman Nathan Turner


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