The Ascarate Lake Fishing Club: It’s all about the kids
By Joe Olvera ©, 2010
Making memories that last a lifetime is the main purpose behind the creation of the Ascarate Lake Fishing Club. Co-sponsored by the El Paso County Park, Golf, and Aquatics Department, and the Ascarate Fishing Club, the idea is to provide young anglers and their families with chances to learn to fish and enjoy the sport.
“We work with the county to teach kids the joys of fishing,” said co-founder and treasurer of the fishing club Harold Stearns. “It’s more about the kids than anything else. But, we don’t just teach them to fish, we teach them about the ecology, about keeping themselves and the areas clean, and we teach them about the enjoyment of being outdoors.”
Stearns said he is a co-founder of the club, along with Jesus Franco, Ray Ward, Frank de la Rosa – the president of the club, and Raul Almanzar, who is the tournament director. Each year, the club holds four tournaments open to young people ages 16 and under. Members of the fishing club – 40 strong at this time – teach fishing techniques and rules to help children enjoy the sport.
The Ascarate Fishing Club provides fishing poles and bait free of charge, while supplies last. In addition, free food and refreshments are offered to children who are registered in all three ge categories: 3-6 years old; 7-12 years old, and 13-16 years old. Four tournaments are held each year, including February, April, June, and October.
Ascarate Lake is home to trout (winter); catfish (summer); large mouth bass, sun perch, blue gill, carp, shad, crappie, hybrid sunfish, and minnows. Anglers are restricted to two poles each. A $23 fishing license is required for adults 17 and older, but, children 16 and under are not required to have a license and can fish for free, provided that an adult 17 and older accompanies them.
“The idea of the club is to provide opportunities for children and families to spend stress-free time together,” Stearns said. “The club was founded in June, 2004. We got together because we saw that the group running the show was very disorganized. We decided to do it the right way, and went the whole nine yards with a 501-C-3 designation. Half of our 40 members are certified by the Parks & Wildlife Department as Angling Instructors. We teach Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, we give classes throughout the year.
“We’re not a social fishing club, we don’t have big fishing tournaments. We’re more of an educational club. Generally, we meet on the first Saturday of every month at 9 a.m., except this year because the Labor Day Holiday got in the way, so we’re having our meeting the second Saturday of this month. We meet at this small clubhouse beside the snack bar. Everyone comes early for the menudo – it’s the most delicious in town. I guess it’s hard to believe an old gringo loves menudo, but, there you have it. If you want to join, come to one of our meetings. We charge $15 per year for each member.”