Wildlife Watch: Free fishing clinics coming to a lake near you

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WATERBURY, Vt. (WCAX) When was the last time you went fishing? Vermont State Parks and Fish and Wildlife have teamed up to teach people of all ages the basics of fishing to help the next generation of anglers get hooked.

The fishing poles are out on a sunny day at Little River State Park in Waterbury, which means one thing -- it's time to wet a line.

"The whole point of these programs are for people who have never fished before," said Corey Hart with Vermont Fish and Wildlife. He says the state is providing free fishing clinics to beginning anglers all summer long throughout the state. The goal is to reel in some fun.

"We are doing these programs to try to get more people out there and actually fishing. A program like this being done at a state park, these tend to appeal a lot to families, so there are a lot of families maybe camping at the state park and they are looking for something fun to do. They will come out go do a day of fishing and hopefully continue fishing the rest of summer," Hart said.

The Lets Go Fishing clinics are led by state park employees like Steven Watson at Little River. "Absolutely this is one of the best things I have done," Watson said. "It kind of brings me back to my childhood and I enjoy seeing the excitedness and the progression of, 'Oh wow. This thing's weird,' to 'I used it and I just caught this fish.'"

Watson and other park instructors around the state are trained by Fish and Wildlife to lead the free clinics. They hope a quick class at a park will get people hooked on fishing and inspire them to buy a license.

"There was a decline in sales of fishing licenses, so they came up with this program to get people back on the water, introduce them and get them the basics. And we kind of supply everything for people so they can try it out. If it's something they are interested in, we can get them out again," Watson said.

At this clinic, it all starts with a lesson on how to cast and it leads to other skills like tying knots, learning about the best places to fish, respecting the environment, and of course, how to put worms on a hook

And as soon as the line goes in the water, the fish come out, bringing mixed reactions from these first-time anglers. "Well the fish tugs pretty hard so it's a tiny bit hard to reel it in," said Ella Berlin from New Hampshire,

"Sometimes you don't catch fish," commented Carter Ferrantino from Massachusetts.

The clinic is also a first-time opportunity for adults, including Jackie Dennison, who Just moved to Montpelier from Chicago and is finding out that a day spent fishing is a day well spent. "A little bit harder than I thought it would be actually, but it's been really just peaceful. You are out here, it gives you something to be doing," Dennison said.

"I think a lot of the little folks that come in and catch their first fish with us are kind of hooked and they keep coming back," Watson said.

There are several more free fishing clinics all around the state the rest of the summer. Click here for details.