Genoa NFH Hosts Accessible Fishing Event for Children
with the Help of a very large “CAST”
BY DOUG ALOISI GENOA NFH
Possibly one of the greatest days of 2013 on the Upper Mississippi happened at the tail end of a torrential downpour, which nearly swept southwest Wisconsin into northern Illinois this June. The Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) was originally approached about organizing a fishing event on Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River by our Regional and Washington offices earlier this spring. After gathering support from United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Fisheries program field stations and National Wildlife Refuges on the River with many local and national partners, the diverse group banded together to host a memorable event of fishing for critically ill children and children with limited accessibility to enjoy the outdoors.
The event planning commenced by working with CAST for Kids and the United Special Sportsman Alliance, two national advocates for creating opportunities to get critically ill children outside in outdoor "make a wish" situations. Through these organizations, the participants and their families were contacted and children were outfitted with fishing poles and gear to make a morning of fishing a reality on the big River. The only thing left to chance was the weather. And did we ever find out just what nature is capable of. On the morning of the 21st, Genoa recorded over 3.25 inches of rain in one hour and the Corps of Engineers Blackhawk Park where the event was scheduled to take place ended up underwater in many places.
at the CAST fishing event held at the Genoa
NFH. Credit: USSA
CAST event. Credit: USSA
With children and their families already on their way, Plan B was executed and the accessible fishing pond located on Genoa NFH grounds was the new location for the event. After a tour of the hatchery, the skies cleared and the children were set loose on the banks of the hatchery pond which is home to bluegill, sunfish, yellow perch and rainbow trout. Many smiles were created as eager volunteer boat captains and other volunteers helped the kids reel in their “trophies”. Much gratitude and thanks go to FWS staff, our local Friends groups, and the volunteer boat captains that never got a chance to get their boats in the water, but stayed and helped the children fish. After catching their fill of fish, a barbecue lunch sponsored by the Genoa Lions club finished off the day. This was an event where the volunteers and staff likely felt more satisfied than even the successful anglers as they packed up and dried off for the trip home.