Texas' Free Tackle Loaner program offers fishing without the hassle

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by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 27, 2014 at 8:57 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 27 at 9:00 PM

GALVESTON, Texas -- Ever want to go fishing, especially with your kids, but you don’t have all the gear or it’s a mess in the garage? Well, now you can.

It’s free and comes with lessons at 40 Texas State Parks. You must pay to get into the park. At Galveston Island State Park, the entry fee is $5 per person, 13 and older. Children are free. The Free Tackle Loaner program is exactly that though.

“With the rods you each get a tackle box,” Park Ranger Chad McNiel said. “We don’t provide the bait.”

You also get a hands-on lesson on how to set up a rod from a seasoned park ranger. After that, comes casting. McNiel demonstrated with a pole, explaining, “When you get to 12 or 1 o’clock cast.”

The free tackle loaner program is a bargain. On this day, KHOU 11 News Anchor Shern-min Chow brought her 12-year-old son and rookie fisherman Hunter to try things out.

“How much does buying a rod cost?” Hunter asked.

“These rods are about $30 with the set up,” McNiel said.

Even better, the rangers untangle, unclog and unhook every rod after every use.

“Rods are kinda like cars. You gotta maintain ‘em,” McNiel said.

Chow and her son decided on a little friendly casting competition since the dozen different types of fish here don’t stand a chance against the duo.

“We shouldn’t be expecting any fish from mom today,” Hunter said.

There are plenty of fish here. The pond is stocked with up 200,000 fingerlings at a time. The park also hosts “Go Fish” events open to anyone. Pictures are filled with little children showing off their catch.

According to the Farmers Almanac, the moon, tide, the weather - the next good fishing isn’t till Jan. 30 through mid-February.

Apparently, the fish have read the almanac, too. As the sun goes down, Chow and her son leave and decide burgers would be good for dinner.

Last year, about 6,000 people used the Free Tackle Loaner program statewide.

At Galveston Island State Park, The Go Fish events for 2014 are on March 15, April 26, May 17, Sept. 13 and Oct. 18.

For more information, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's website.

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