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Fishing event catches kids outdoors

Greer Hintermeister of Nichols shows great patience waiting for a nibble on her fishing pole at the TAKO Fly Fishing event Saturday, Sept. 6, at Liberty Centre Pond in North Liberty. (photo by Jen Moore)

NORTH LIBERTY– Even little fish in a big pond can make a huge splash, when kids are involved.
Liberty Centre Park in North Liberty was the site for the most recent activity sponsored by TAKO (Take a Kid Outdoors) on Saturday, Sept. 6. TAKO, together with the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association (HFFA), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and staff of the North Liberty Recreation Department organized a free fly fishing clinic for anyone wanting to learn more about the sport. It was the second TAKO event held in North Liberty, with about 40 participants. A June fishing event brought in a crowd of almost 200.
The volunteer organization TAKO was initiated in 2006 in northeast Iowa, with monthly events for families and for mentoring programs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, said TAKO president Judy Joyce.
“Mentoring program (organizers) were finding that the big brothers or sisters were taking kids to movies or to the mall,” said Joyce. “They wanted to find ways to get kids outdoors instead. So we would provide events to get kids and families outdoors.”
Three years ago, TAKO branched out to Johnson County, and partners with entities like the DNR, various park and recreation departments, astronomy clubs, and other groups interested in providing active, fun and free opportunities for young people to enjoy the great outdoors.
“We had a very successful event in August with Cocklin Quarry and River Products,” said Joyce. “We had almost 200 people there, to look at rocks and fossils. It was so great.”
September’s fly fishing event was geared toward teaching participants how to properly tie lures, cast using a fly rod, and land the big one. HFFA members were on hand to demonstrate techniques.
“The fishing events we have held have been a great success,” said North Liberty Recreation Department’s Jason Egly, “largely due to the cooperation and initiative of the Iowa DNR. It could not become a reality without the generous food, and monetary and equipment donations from local businesses and organizations. We always have a free lunch at the events as well as a lot of cool outdoor prizes to give away including everything from tackle boxes to fishing poles.”
TAKO’s mission is to “immerse participants in enjoyable activities to develop an attitude of joy, wonder, love and respect for our natural world,” according to the website. Pre-registration is not required for TAKO events. A new program was recently launched that gives participants points for engaging in outdoor activities, and the chance to win prizes with accumulated points at a 2015 summer event. Visit www.takeakidoutdoors.org/index.htm for more information, or find their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Take-A-Kid-Outdoors-Iowa/199038683472954.
“We try to keep it flexible and spontaneous as possible, so if someone has grandkids in town, or nieces or nephews visiting, or for parents– anyone can just sort of show up and not commit to a membership,” said Joyce.
That approach has been enticing bait for families, Egly said.
“Many families seem to love the chance to get outside. With everyone’s lives being so busy these days, it is good to have scheduled, structured outdoor events such as this that people can plan for ahead of time.”
Because there are always children who have never caught a fish before, Egly said TAKO events present great opportunities to introduce people to fishing.
“It is one of the great outdoor recreational activities that can be done at several locations right here in town,” Egly said. “Nothing beats the excitement on a kid’s face when catching their first fish.”
TAKO’s next event is a pumpkin carving party Oct. 18, from 4 until 6:30 p.m. at Emma Harvat Square on the Peninsula in Iowa City.
“If the weather is nice, we’ll have some telescopes there to do some star gazing,” said Joyce. A hiking event through Ryerson Woods is planned for November.
Egly said North Liberty plans to continue to partner with TAKO for future events.