By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
The 23rd Annual Kids Fishin’ Clinic was up and running bright and early Saturday morning at Oasis State Park. Youth anglers brought their poles, tackle boxes, and listening ears as they took in the fundamentals of fishing from volunteers representing various organizations.
The Kids Fishin’ Clinic was set up with eight different learning stations for children to learn everything from fly fishing to fly tying and how to clean a fish. A park employee kept the people moving along by sounding a horn when it was time to switch stations.
“I learned how to gut a fish, the proper way,” said Elmon Herrera, 16. Herrera was one of the older children at the clinic, and is already an avid fisher as well.
“I’ve gone fishing 20-30 times this year. I did learn some stuff though. Before when I was gutting my fish, I was chopping its head off. I learned today I don’t need to.”
Kadyn Collins, 10, and Elijah Montano, 8, were both fans of the fish gutting station as well.
“The guts coming out was kinda awesome to me,” said Collins.
“When we gutted the fish and they took the guts out, I thought the heart was cool because it was so small,” said Montano.
Other children were eager to share what they learned as well.
“I learned how to use a hook remover to get the hook out of a fish’s mouth,” said D’Yani Torres, 8.
As much as the children were eager to learn, the volunteers were just as eager to teach.
“I’ve been coming and volunteering for the past 12 years. I just like to help the kids,” said Don Nelson, a member of the Friends of Oasis. They were just one of the groups that came to volunteer, along with the Eastern New Mexico University Fish and Wildlife Club, and volunteers from the Living Desert Zoo and Garden and Sumner Lake State Parks.
Matt Ramey, 20, was teaching the tackle identification station as a volunteer from the ENMU Fish and Wildlife Club.
“When I was a kid, I loved fishing. When I grew up people taught me, so I want to teach them,” said Ramey, the vice president of the ENMU Fish and Wildlife Club.
After the lessons were learned, everyone gathered for a barbecue featuring hot dogs and homemade chili. The food tasted much better than the salmon eggs smelled.
“We got to smell the salmon eggs at the bait station. They stink,” said Montano with a grin.