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Hooked On East Texas: Free fishing turns into a free Science lesson

Texas kicked off National Fishing and Boating Day with a free fishing day last Saturday that hooked many first timers on fishing.

TYLER, Texas — This is National Fishing and Boating Week. Texas kicked the week off with a free fishing day last Saturday. It was a day anglers could fish any Texas waterbody for free. It's one day but that one day may hook some on fishing for life while teaching some important science lessons. 

11-year-old Kinli Bryan learned more about fish. She caught her first fish ever, a catfish and reeling in the fish felt like a game of tug-of-war. Kinli said, "it felt weird, felt heavy."

We also met 11-year old Austin Johnson from Dallas. He caught a catfish on his first cast on a bait that he created. It's chicken pieces marinated in cherry Kool-Aid. Why cherry Kool-Aid? Austin knows catfish are attracted to smelly baits. He added garlic for a little extra attraction. 

“I know how kool-aid smells very strong and I said let me figure it out, so I did it and then add garlic and then you catch fish all day," Austin said. 

Free fishing day is more than just casting, catching, and fishing. It’s really a lesson in STEM, Science, Technology Engineering, and Math. 

Katie Birk is the events coordinator at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center and she told us free fishing day creates great educational opportunities. 

 "It gets kids passionate about the great outdoors and the sport of fishing," Birk said.

There was a tagged catfish event that gave kids a chance to win a prize. But it also acted as a science lesson as anglers learned why fisheries biologist sometimes tag fish across the state of Texas. 

“Our biologists use those to monitor fish in the ponds across the state of Texas, so this is a tool that is used quite often to figure out migration patterns, growth rates, and things like that," Birk said.  

T-F-F-C's Megan Andrusick adds, “At Texas Parks and Wildlife, we want to preserve our natural resources and the best way to do that is to have people loving those natural resources and wanting to preserve them.”

Free fishing day can begin a future of fishing. Zebco pond at T-F-F-C gives inexperienced or first time anglers a chance to learn and ask lots of questions. You don't need a license you can fish for free with the price of admission to T-F-F-C.

“People who have never fished before, or they don’t have the means or the know how to get the equipment they need. They can come here. We provide the equipment; we have volunteers and staff here to help with fishing," Andrusick said.

Remember Saturday June 4th was the only day in Texas to fish without a license. If you get caught without one, it could cost you up to 500-dollars. 


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