Special needs youth reel in taste of outdoors during annual Fishing Derby

Local News

Students from across the area are reeling in a special opportunity at a local lake. 

Disabled youth are getting the chance to experience fishing fun – many for the first time. 

Spring Lake is fully-stocked with hundreds of trout just waiting to be caught by the special junior anglers at the Texarkana Fishing Derby. 

We give ’em long cane poles, we put corn on there, and they just, they love it,” said Eddie Aulds, recreation specialist with Texarkana, Texas, Parks and Recreation. 

Aulds and his team are giving kids with special needs a special experience. 

Ashley Watkins, a teacher’s aide in Fouke, assisted some of the youth at the event. 

“He loves to eat fish and he loves fish when they’re not moving, but when they’re moving he’s not real sure,” said Watkins about one of the students she was fishing with. 

The fishing frenzy at Spring Lake Park is giving these kids a chance to catch more than trout. 

“The social interaction and just the fact that they get to come and enjoy something so wholesome as going fishing,” said Jessica Brasfield, a Fouke teacher. 
 
“When they pull a fish out of that water, it’s just amazing to see their faces,” said Aulds.
 
The ADA-accessible dock is a prime position for all to have a chance to reel in the big catch and see the outdoors in a new way. But, whether they keep their fish or toss them back, the kids are hooked by the experience. 
 
“I see a boost in their confidence and, like, how much more they believe in themselves in being able to come out here. It’s just, it’s amazing to be able to see that,” said Brasfield.
 
This is the 27th year for this event and the fishing festivities will pick back up Friday morning with hundreds more expected to attend. The Fishing Derby is by invitation-only and free for those invited. 

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