Six-year-old Hudson Brown left Kleiner Park on Wednesday without a catch but still smiling from his day of fishing.
“My favorite are rainbow trout,” he said. “They’re pretty.”
Brown was among dozens of kids drawn to Kleiner Park by Idaho Fish and Game’s fishing trailer, which tours Treasure Valley ponds each spring to introduce the sport to children. It’s stocked with loaner rods and bait and run by a crew eager to dispense some knowledge.
The goal: Create lifelong anglers. It’s too early to tell if that’s happening.
“But we sure put a lot of smiles on kids’ faces,” said Evin Oneale, a regional conservation educator for Fish and Game.
Oneale began the trailer tour in 2009. Previously, Fish and Game would bring fishing gear to interested groups.
“We were looking for a better way to do that,” he said. “... We just thought what we need to do is we need to get the fishing equipment to a location and have the people come to us, vs. the other way around.”
The trailer launched with 8-10 stops in the first year. It peaked with more than 40 stops in a year and will make 25 this year, ending June 11 at McDevitt Pond in Boise. The tour has its own temporary staff to handle the schedule.
The fishing trailer also has expanded across the state. Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Jerome and Idaho Falls/Pocatello each have trailer programs.
As many as 200 kids have shown up for a fishing trailer stop in the Treasure Valley. The ponds usually are stocked with fish a couple days in advance. Parents don’t need a license to fish at trailer stops.
“We’re fortunate (in the Treasure Valley) in that we have a lot of these bicycle fisheries, like Kleiner here, where kids can jump on their bike from their neighborhood and pedal down to go fishing,” Oneale said.
Upcoming events: Thursday (Settlers Pond, Meridian, 4-8 p.m.), Saturday (Weiser Pond, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.), Wednesday (Sawyers Pond, Emmett, 4-8 p.m.), May 19 (McDevitt Pond, Boise, 4-8 p.m.), May 21 (Mill Pond, Horseshoe Bend, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.). Full schedule here. The June 2 stop at Williams Pond in Boise has been canceled.