Cub Scouts from Pack 65 in Harrah joined other volunteers last month to promote the Close to Home fishing program in south Oklahoma City.
The June 30 event gathered information about the viability of adding a flood detention pond to the program. If the effort is successful, the pond will join 35 other lakes and ponds that provide urban fishing opportunities.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife has been managing the fisheries in neighborhood ponds since 2000 with fish stocking, habitat enhancement, weed control, regulation enforcement and access improvement.
Pack 65 Cubs volunteered for their own Close to Home pond over the course of two weekends in June, 2010, building 100 “spider blocks.”
They are so named because arching segments of black pipe are secured in the center hole of a cinder block and the completed project resembles a spider. The habitats serve a purpose similar to brush piles, but don't degrade over time and are less likely to snag a fisherman's hook.
The fisherman's creed, “Bait your own hook, clean your own fish, tell your own lies,” went head to head with “A Scout is Honest” as youth and adults reported their catches for the day.
The count revealed 25 volunteers snagged 223 fish in a little over three hours. The catch, primarily of catfish, bass and perch, ranged in size from “bait” to three pounds.
The clinic brought together youth and adults from Norman, members of North Oklahoma City Jr. Bassmaster's Club and the Pack 65 Cubs for the cooperative effort between the Department of Wildlife and the city of Oklahoma City.
Located a half block from a school, the detention pond was dug deeper than normal, which allows fish to survive when there is no flooding, and helps keep them in place when there is.
The Cubs closed the day with a trash pickup spearheaded by Scout parent Manoi Birdsong. With a lawn mower having chopped trash into tiny pieces, and recent storm debris littering the pond edge, the task was not easy. The Scouts drew inspiration from the Scout Law.
Noah Davis, 9, said “Trash pickup is usually about helpful, courteous, and cheerful, but today we had to be brave too.”
Norman North High School chemistry teacher Jeremy Walker said he could have benefitted from a Close To Home fishing pond when he was a youth.
“I only learned how to fish two years ago, from a buddy at Lake Eufaula.”
Walker said he wants to share the bond of fishing across generations.
“I bought Dad a rod and reel last Father's Day so I can do that with him and my boys.”
Walker came to the fishing clinic with his wife, Jenny, and their sons Craig, 13, and Courtland, 7. Also fishing were Walker's former chemistry student, Zac Christenberry, 18, now of Blanchard, and Travis Carpenter, 16, of Midwest City. Both are members of the North OKC Jr. Bassmasters Club, and were on hand to assist.
For more information on Scouting, go to www.BeAScout.org. To find a Close To Home facility near you, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com/fishing/close2home.htm.
Dana Garcia is a Scout volunteer.