FOXHOLM - The day was meant to be an outdoor opportunity for those who are not fortunate enough to enjoy fishing and the outdoors on a regular basis. It worked to perfection. There were smiles up and down the riverbank, especially when a blast from an air horn announced that another fish had been caught.
Special Fishing Day was held June 7 at the Outlet Fishing Area below Lake Darling Dam. The event is designed for individuals with special needs. A large contingent of volunteers assist in the effort to make the day a success.
Duane Anderson, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, has been the organizer of the Special Fishing Day for many years. As such, he is grateful for help from fellow USFWS employees, North Dakota Game and Fish, the Kenmare Vets Club and Goosefest Committee, Souris River Basin Longbeards, Minot's Northwest Anglers and numerous other volunteers who do everything from fixing faulty fishing gear to cooking lunch and cleaning fish.
Fishermen lined the bank at the Outlet Fishing Area below Lake Darling Dam on June 7 for Special Fishing Day. Five hours were set aside to accommodate a fishing outing for individuals with special needs.
Aaron Scott, Minot, is the happy angler who caught this northern pike during Special Fishing Day held at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge June 7.
"It's rewarding and very satisfying," said Anderson. "It's a gratifying event. The volunteers come out and just enjoy helping. We had about 70 fishing rods ready here and I'd say about 60 of them are out."
One glance up and down the riverbank confirmed Anderson's estimate. There were plenty of fishermen and they were having some luck too. One of the best catches of the day was a 9-pound,1-ounce northern pike that challenged Minoter Aaron Scott.
"It was a struggle. That's basically it," said Scott with a big smile while stopping to show the fish off to anyone within viewing distance.
"This is a day the people look forward to every year," said Donna Wallin of KALIX. "So often they don't get the opportunity to participate in events like this on their own. They look forward to it every year. They love to get out and socialize and fish!"
Wallin is the coordinator of social leisure services for KALIX. She was enormously pleased with the event, which was producing chatter and smiles and laughter all along the shoreline.
"They start asking me about this day about March," said Wallin. "Some just enjoy the outdoors. A lot of them fish all the way until quitting time at 3 p.m. It's just a day that everybody can get together, socialize and have fun."
Special Fishing Day at Upper Souris NWR is held each year on North Dakota's free fishing weekend.