By Brooke Curley
ROPER LAKE STATE PARK – The weather was warm, the fish were biting and multiple local families were given a taste of the joys of fishing at Roper Lake on Saturday.
The major draw to the event was that it was free access to the park from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., during the Family Fishing event hosted by Arizona Game and Fish. Fishing lessons and fishing poles were also available for public use. Many families had nothing but positive remarks for the experience.
Marci Alderman, who is the Arizona Game and Fish’s sporting and fishing education coordinator from Phoenix, said the event was well-received.
“This is the first time that we’ve done a family fishing event at Roper Lake State Park in several years,” Alderman said. “It’s the first time I’ve done it. The idea is to get families outdoors (and) we also want to get kids engaged with the outdoors, get them interested in fishing and obviously we know that with kids, parents have to be involved too, so we want the whole family unit to be involved, and so we are providing these types of clinics because we do have a lot of families that are new to fishing or who have never fished before. This gives them the opportunity to get some instruction and to learn how to fish and hopefully want to do it again on their own.”
Park Manager Michelle Reddy said she hoped the event would bring more families to the Roper Lake State Park in general, as well as for fishing.
“The public is taking this very well and we’re having a wonderful turnout,” Reddy said. “I’m hoping that it will show the locals what Roper Lake has to offer, and it will bring more of them out here to the park to enjoy it and to bring their children out here and show them how much fun fishing can be. “
Kariana Schnebly brought her family to experience the free fishing event and said it was very enjoyable.
“We’re happy to be here,” Schnebly said. “It’s a nice day (and a) good fishing sport for the children. This is our first time. We just decided to come, and we’re having fun.”
Melanie Payne, 11, told Gila Valley Central that her father was an expert fisherman and her favorite aspect of fishing was catching fish.
“This is our first time, but we usually go to Cluff Ponds,” Payne said. “We haven’t really caught anything yet, but we haven’t gone fishing in forever.”
According to Reddy, the final total of participants in the event were 172, and the park rangers are calling the day a triumph.
“We’re calling it a big success,” Reddy said. “And we’re planning on doing it again this time, hopefully, every year.”