Discovering the Fish with a Ranger Program
By JENNIFER MEEKINS
By JENNIFER MEEKINS
When looking for a family-oriented activity to do this summer season, search no more. Just stop by and visit the local park service station and ask for information on the many activities they offer.
Among the multitude of activity choices, you will find the program “Fish with a Ranger.” This program is offered free of charge. They provide the fishing poles and tackle which are donated to the park service from local tackle shops including Red Drum Tackle and Frank and Fran’s. A fishing license is not required to be a part of this activity because they are covered under a “blanket fishing license.” All you need to bring is the bait, and they recommend blood worms, shrimp or squid. The program is offered every Monday and Thursday, at 8 a.m., weather permitting.
Sign up is quick and easy at the Cape Hatteras Light Station. Just stop in and let them know which activity you are interested in. For the Fish with a Ranger program, participants under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. You will need to provide the following information to the facility – which date you want to attend, your name, phone number, number of adults and children attending, ages of children attending, and whether each person is right-handed or left-handed. If for any reason a cancellation is needed they request that you call ahead to let them know so that it makes space for other interested individuals. This program is open to a party of 15 people at a time.
The morning of the event, we arrived at the meeting place, the Frisco bath house. The rangers that were leading the activity met us in the parking area with fishing poles and tackle.
On the day that we attended, we were greeted by Ranger Dave and Ranger Jayk. They were both very knowledgeable, helpful and attentive to the children in the group. “How much did the pirate pay for his earrings? A buck an ear!” Ranger Jayk joked with the children while waiting.
In the beginning, they touched on information on the following topics – rip currents, taking care of the trash on the beaches, caring for the donated equipment, information on fishing licenses, how to use your tackle and bait, and casting. Then we crossed over the ramp and set up for what Ranger Jayk calls “a game of patience.”
The rangers spaced everyone out about 20 feet apart and helped everyone with tackle, bait and casting their reels. Then they walk back and forth amongst the participants to answer any questions. This was a great experience for the kids that were present. They learned a lot about fishing. “Baiting my own hook” was a favorite part for Morgan Meekins, age 7, while Noah Meekins, age 4, enjoyed “casting my own rod.”
While there, there was one catch and release of a small flounder. “The fishing has been really slow the past three weeks or so,” mentioned Ranger Dave. When it inched closer to time to depart, everyone reeled in their fishing rods, removed the tackle, and met in a circle. The rangers closed with questions about the program, inquiring about what everyone learned and what they could do better to make the program more enjoyable. Then everyone carried everything back over the ramp, rinsed off at the showers and returned all the borrowed items to the rangers. It was a fun and informative activity!
After attending this program with my children, I am sure to attend some of the other activities offered by the park service station. Other offered programs include a Light Station Talk, Barrier Island Nature, Crabbing with a Ranger, Ocracoke After Dark, Ocracoke Island: Pirates, All About Turtles, Morning Bird Walk, Night Sky Over Hatteras, Banker Ponies, Soundside Seining, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Full Moon Climb, and many more. You can find more information on these events online at https://www.nps.gov, call or visit the Hatteras Island Museum.