SOUTH FORK — Blue skies stretched over the San Juan Mountains Saturday morning, June 19, and as the sun peaked out over the mountain tops, it glistened on the smooth, uninterrupted water of Tucker Ponds.
Twenty-four children, ranging in ages from young to mid-teens, took part in the annual Youth Fishing Clinic, first learning how to cast and then moving on to the fundamentals of tying knots with long-time South Fork Visitor Center Director Mark Teders and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Division Ranger Jeremy Gallegos.
The ponds were recently stocked. As the children went through the course, fish jumped out of the water in the distance. In addition to fishing basics, attendees learned fishing regulations for the State of Colorado and how to identify their catch.
Gallegos and his team of CPW officers used interactive lessons designed for young anglers to teach the regulations. Gallegos informed the future outdoor enthusiasts of the rules about fishing in the state.
In addition to the regulations, CPW taught children how to identify their catch and what to look for in a healthy fish, how to determine whether it should be released back into the water, and even some tips on cleaning and being safe while out enjoying a day of fishing. CPW officers spent a good portion of the morning teaching children how to cast and how to tie lures to lines in a secure manner.
This year's course included a prize drawing where every participant ended up with something other than their new poles to take home, including tackle boxes and other fishing gear.
Once participants hit the lake and waited for lunch to be served by Chapel of the South Fork, Teders cleaned up from the day’s activities and announced he was retiring in the fall. Teders has been with the South Fork Visitor Center for going on 10 years, eight as its director. When asked what he plans to do when he retires, Teders simply smiled and said, “Head to the mountains as much as possible of course.”
The Town of South Fork is currently looking for his replacement.