Young anglers, age 5 to 15, can grab a pole and fish for free on Saturday mornings starting today at the pond in Lovelace Park, Gross Point Road at Thayer St.

Young anglers, age 5 to 15, can grab a pole and fish for free on Saturday mornings starting today at the pond in Lovelace Park, Gross Point Road at Thayer St.

Sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, this is a catch-and-release program designed to give youth a chance to experience firsthand the fun of fishing.

Free equipment and bait are provided, and staff from the Evanston Ecology Center are on hand to offer their expert advice. This fishing program is held from 10 a.m. to noon every Saturday, May 2- Oct. 31.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. Fishing licenses are not needed for those under age 16. For more details, call 847-448-8256.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Watching this is disgusting!

    How is it sports or fun, or educational program for that matter? I am not vegan as you might suspect, not even vegetarian, but I cold not help watching this "catch and release"  "free fishing experience for children" without repulsion! How disgusting it was to see an older man (who came with his teenage grandson) pull out one little catfish after another, proudly  and SLOWLY walk around the pond for others to admire, to the person "in charge" of the program who would pull the hook out of the poor creature's mouth (or throat) and hand it back to the proud sportsman for him to throw it back in to the pond! I wanted to scream! Mothers bringing toddlers to experience the feeling of pulling fish out of water into the air where it is choking, and take pictures? A 3yo girl posing with her fishing pole in her little hands and a catfish struggling for its life on the hook, while the father was lesurey taking MULTIPLE shots?!? By the end of the program a teenage boy who came with his own fishing poles. He would not even pull the hook from the fish, just cut the line and let it go with the hook in its mouth or eye.

    The fish struggles not because it wants to give us 'good sport' but because to not struggle means to perish. The poor living creature is lifted from it's natural domaine, to where it can't breath! What seems like a quick dive into the bag for the camera for us, can seem like an eternity to a disoriented fish that can't breath and has just exhausted itself in a life or death struggle against the pulling line. But – no, we take proud pictures, hold them up for admiration, and then, feeling somehow merciful and noble, place them back into the water….

    Do we take the time to consider what damage that hook point may do? Do we know how it might effect how the fish feeds, how it tastes or deals with it's food. We blindly put it back, feeling good about it, even. But is that fish now too exhausted to avoid a predator? Heal from a wound? Did we stunt it's growth?

    Will the fish even survive? Many don't. Catch and release is not without it's mortality rate.Researchers at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation found that as many as 43 percent of fish released after being caught died within six days. AND, you never 'see' it, as these fish die slowly and don't become the 'floaters' that many associate with mortality. Many of those fish we released died a slow and painful death.

    And if they do not die, fish who are released after being caught can suffer from loss of their protective scale coating that makes them vunerable to disease, a dangerous build-up of lactic acid in their muscles, oxygen depletion, and damage to their delicate fins and mouths.

    And, even more troubling, we did this for FUN. Not to feed ourselves, not to take our rightful place in the circle of life, but just for the shear enjoyment of it all. Are we are all enjoying the terrorizing of a lesser creature?

    And this is happening in the 21st century in this ever progressive and "green" and largely vegetarian community of Evanston?

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