It’s not just about the fish. The annual Exceptional Anglers event Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin‘ brings out hundreds of schoolchildren each year from Jefferson and Shelby counties.
The participating students have developmental challenges. The lesson is not just about reeling in “the big one,” but giving students the opportunity to experience the joy of the great outdoors.
The three-day event hosted at Oak Mountain State Park kicked off Wednesday, May 10 and concludes Friday, May 12. Young anglers, with assistance from volunteers, catch (and throw back) fish stocked in the lake. That lake, behind the park’s main office, is stocked with several thousand fish. Students and volunteers fish from an expanded pier that meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Volunteers, state agencies and several companies partner to make this signature event a success.
“Not only do the students look forward to this event, but others who’ve helped put this on each year,” said Mike Clelland, Environmental Affairs specialist at Alabama Power.
Alabama Power, as one of the corporate sponsors, helped to stock the lake with mostly catfish and some bass. About 2,000 pounds of fish were stocked this year. Alabama Power also provided volunteers to assist with the nearly 1,000 students who participated this year.