Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ reels in big smiles and fish

Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ reels in big smiles and fish
Alabama Power Service Organization volunteers help students fish during the Exceptional Anglers event Gone Fishin', Not Just Wishin'. (Billy Brown/Alabama NewsCenter)

Hundreds of students take over Oak Mountain State Park for this event each spring. And it not only brings the students pure joy, but the volunteers who assist them, too.

The annual Exceptional Anglers event Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ hosts schoolchildren from Jefferson and Shelby counties who have developmental challenges.

The lesson is far greater than fishing; it’s an opportunity to experience one of the great joys of nature and work closely with others.

The three-day event kicked off Wednesday, May 9, and concluded today.

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, mostly catfish and some blue gills, thanks to corporate sponsors like Alabama Power and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

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 also provided volunteers to assist with the students who participated this year.

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