WASHINGTON - There's something fishy going on in D.C., and you're invited to join in.
"Friday Night Fishing" is a free program designed to get families hooked on all that the Anacostia River has to offer.
Kellie Bolinder, with the Earth Conservation Corps, says the pilot program is proving popular.
"The goal is just to encourage children and families to come to the Anacostia (River)," she says.
Anyone can join the group at Diamond Teague Park on the waterfront near Yards Park. The program is open to everyone, and it's free.
On a recent Friday night, clusters of kids gathered on the pier, excitedly testing their lines, hoping for a bite.
When asked if she's having a good time, 8-year-old Nakhari says "No ... Because I haven't caught a fish!"
She's hoping to reel in "A catfish, ANY fish," she says, as she stares into the water as if willing a fish to bite. As if on cue, another angler feels pressure on her line, and pulls a fist-sized snail to the surface. Excited by the catch, Nakhari rushes over to congratulate her.
The kids get plenty of help from staffers and volunteers. Professional bass fisherman Jesse Moore works with the program. Moore helped one pair of newbies untangle their lines.
"You don't want to shake and jiggle it," he advises. "You just want to reel it in slowly, then put your rod down, and work with your hands."
He makes it look easy.
Also standing by to help, Trey Sherard, a biologist who does outreach with the Anacostia Riverkeeper program.
Sherard thoroughly enjoys working with the kids.
"It's phenomenal, especially when it's balmy and beautiful like it is right now," he says.
And he enjoys joking around with them. When one young fisherman shouts "We got a fish" Sherard is there to help when the line becomes so taut it doesn't budge.
Checking the line, and making sure the rod doesn't get pulled from the young angler's hands he declares very seriously "Hmmmm ... I believe you've caught the bottom of the river ... Are you trying to pull the plug out of the water?"
There are some giggles and some groans, but within minutes the kids are back at it, waiting to see what they might be able to bring to the surface.
Bolinder, with Earth Conservation Corps, says the pilot program for Friday Night Fishing was launched with a donation from a local family, and helped by Pure Fishing which donated the rods and supplies.
The hope is that the two environmental programs can bring summer fishing back next year and extend it into the fall.
"That's when the best fishing is," Bolinder explains. She says it's been exciting to bring the program to the District. "It's exciting to see when they get that bite. The best part is to see the kids smile, because they're so proud of their catch."
The catch and release program runs each Friday night through Aug. 23. The fishing starts at 5 p.m. and lasts until 8 p.m. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Friday Night Fishing happens at Diamond Teague Park, 100 Potomac Avenue SE, Washington, D.C.
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