Colorado anglers, avid fly-fishers and those who simply haven’t tossed a line in the water for years, have one more day to take advantage of free fishing.
The state Division of Wildlife requires no fishing licenses during the first weekend in June every year to promote sport fishing. And countless fishermen, women and children surrounded lakes, ponds and holes in the Pikes Peak region Saturday to join in the fun.
Manitou Lake, about eight miles north of Woodland Park in Teller County, had scores of anglers on the banks. Just after 2 p.m. Saturday, sisters Ameira Gregg, 4, and Alina Gregg, 8, showed off a small cooler full of trout. Their dad, Tim Gregg, said he makes the almost 40-mile trip from near Powers Boulevard in Colorado Springs every year for the free fishing.
Kevin Klimeck, 52, came all the way from of Castle Rock to camp and fish for free. He stood on the eastern shore of Manitou Lake, proud of his first catch.
“My daughter wanted to see someone catch a fish,” Klimeck said. “She went to get lunch and I caught one.”
A group of Cub Scouts from Troop 9200 in Divide were there for their final meeting of the year. Jeff Gaul, whose 8-year-old son Owen is in the troop, said Cub Master Nicole Barret tries to arrange the annual meeting to coincide with free fishing.
“She wants to get as many people as she can to come out with their families,” Gaul said, just before his 5-year-old son Emmit reeled a small rainbow trout to shore, wrestling it into his tight grip.
Anglers also lined the shores of Prospect Lake and Quail Lake in Colorado Springs.
The Division of Wildlife held a family fishing clinic from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Quail Lake. Free fishing rods and reels were to be given away to the first 500 kids who had an adult with them, the agency said in a news release.
Lindsay Mendell, who lives near Garden of the Gods, said she and her fiance Shannon Smith didn’t have licenses so they chose Saturday to enjoy Quail Lake. Mendell bought her 4-year-old son Tyler new fishing equipment for his first-ever expedition. The boy held a stringer with a small perch proudly.
It was the only fish on the stringer.
“We haven’t caught much,” Mendell admitted, noting that the couple comes to the setting often when they want to fish. “It’s got nice trees and it’s close to the mountains.”
Mendell and others will get a second chance at free fishing today.