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--- Issued July 16, 2012

Twenty-three young Erie Housing Authority residents got hooked -- in some cases re-hooked -- on fishing this summer in a three-day program that ran from June 26 to June 28


The first two days focused on the SMART Angler Program (Safety, Manners, Appreciate the Water, Release, Teaching). The SMART Angler Program is designed to provide instruction to youth between the ages of 8 and 12 on the types of fish found in Pennsylvania, fish habitats, safety, equipment, outdoor manners and protecting our water resources.

Parents, guardians, mentors and other family members were encouraged to participate in SMART fishing clinics. Each participant learns basic fishing skills and gets to put those skills to use. All the participants in the Authority's fishing program focused on being “SMART” anglers.
This included learning what equipment to use, casting techniques, and lessons on water quality and what lives in our lakes and streams.

A Mentor/Youth Fishing Day was held on day three at the Rotary pavilion at Presque Isle State Park. Sixteen youths who had never fished before graduated from this year's program.


Seven prior graduates of the program participated in this day of actual fishing.


Twenty mentors from various organizations participated, including EarthAction, S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie, six officers from the COPPS Program, SafeNet, HACE Staff, representatives from the Erie County Sheriffs Department, and Erie County Adult Probation.


"It's incredible. The number of mentors who participate in this program increases every year," said Michael Fraley, resident initiatives coordinator. "We had more mentors this year than ever before."


At the end of the third day, the young fishermen and fisherwomen were treated to a picnic prepared by mentors. The meal included perch, homemade onion rings, turkey burgers and hotdogs.


Following dinner, John E. Horan, Authority executive director -- a volunteer mentor himself who participates every year -- presented the new graduates with a Certificate of Completion and a new fishing rod and reel.


This was the seventh year for the "Learn to Fish Program," started by Horan in 2006.