Freshwater – 2 Day Fishing Clinic held at Highland Park Fish Camp – Deland, Fl
The instructors and crew arrived on Friday PM to get some of the tents and camp set up. A couple of the participants also planned to arrive early. We were briefed on a local Black Bear that had been hanging around camp – we knew then that we were surely in for an adventure! The camp dog Ranger joined us as we headed up to camp to set up. No sooner than we were set up the rain started – nothing too bad and it passed quickly enough that we still had daylight enough to fish a bit in the pond near camp.
It did not take long and the girls were catching some fine bass. We all hung around till dark and then got to know each other a bit around the fire before heading to our tents for the evening. Our youngest participant started the fire on her own, with primitive tools to beat! We were not in bed long when “the bear” made his first of many visits to camp. He was easy to spook off though, but he was a real big bear!
The next morning we got an early start on class Dot was there to teach the ladies all they would need to know about Rods, Reels, Lines, Lures, Bait and many other things! Soon the participants were all rigging up their own poles. After a quick break for lunch it was time for boating safety and knot tying. Then it was down to the fish house for filleting class, everyone was able to filet half a fish – the hands on instruction was a real benefit to those attending the class! Once we wrapped up instruction it was time to go fish! Highland Park Fish Camp had a pond stocked up with bass that were caught in the tributaries along the St John’s River and released for the younger and new fisherman/woman to get some practice. All of the girls caught fish – some multiple times. What was fun was seeing all the fellas coming in for a tournament the next day fishing the other side of the pond for fun and having our participants out-fishing them!
Soon dinner was ready – a low country boil! Shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes and onions all cooked together with some amazing seasoning. We also cooked up the fish that were prepared during class. Everything turned out wonderful – There was even dessert cooked in Dutch ovens – Peach Cobbler and Pina Colada Cake – No one went hungry this trip! The rest of the evening was spent telling fish tales around the fire. We stayed up later than we probably should have but the bear wanted us to stay up all night. Again, he made multiple visits to camp, each time finding no food but trying to! He was not interested in us – just coolers, cook pots, an empty soda can, etc. I have to say I was glad he did not try to get in the truck where we stored all the food!
Sunday morning we had a pontoon boat loaded and ready to go. We took the ladies out though the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. We headed out early with our packed lunches and bait, this time the participants would be taught about fishing for pan fish – Bluegill, Crappie, Perch and Sunfish. We loaded up a ton of crickets, they rigged their rods and soon were spending a fine afternoon fishing in some of the most beautiful wilderness Florida has to offer.
By the end of our trip every participant had caught a fish, they all learned many hands on skills that they will continue to perfects as they continue fishing. Why did they come? Well some had only fished with their dad’s or husbands and had never got to learn how to tie a knot or how to pick a lure, others were parents and they wanted to be able to teach their children. We even had a participant that was going fishing with her grandson this summer and she just did not want to look like she did not know what she was doing….. whatever the reason they came, learned and had a great time. New friendships formed and many were already planning to get together later in the year.
It is a great joy to participate in the Becoming and Outdoor Woman Program and Beyond BOW Events. Our staff and volunteers love sharing their skills with anyone wanting to learn and they always go above and beyond to make sure these participants have a great time. If you are not familiar with these programs offered throughout the USA and beyond – check one out near you. You might find that you can’t go to just one….. http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/bow/Pages/default.aspx
For more photos from our trip please visit –