State Park fishing

Fishing’s Future Huntsville Piney Woods Chapter master angler John Masterson stands along the shore of Lake Raven at Raven Lodge in Huntsville State Park, where he will be hosting the upcoming Family Fishing Celebration events on July 31 and August 21.

Learn to fish from a master angler this summer as the city of Huntsville casts off with its first Family Fishing Celebration at Huntsville State Park.

Family Fishing Celebration is a Texas Parks and Wildlife angler education outreach event being held in partnership between the Huntsville Piney Wood Chapter of Fishing’s Future, the city of Huntsville and Huntsville State Park.

Fishing’s Future aims to strengthen family relationships through nature, while teaching environmental stewardship and increasing awareness for the protection, conservation and restoration of the nation’s aquatic natural resources. Since the Huntsville chapter’s founding in August 2020, master angler John Masterson has been able to put on small events and fishing lessons for the community’s youth to enjoy through the pandemic. Now, the Texas Parks and Wildlife certified angler education instructor is ready to fulfill his goals of hosting the chapter’s first large scale fishing event in partnership with the city.

“It teaches them to get outside and how to connect with nature, and that’s something I believe is really great for all kids,” Masterson said. “It also teaches the importance of taking care of our environment and the habitats around us.”

During the three-hour event, Masterson and a team of volunteers will teach 40 junior anglers the basics of angler education, including knot tying, how to cast, water species and their habitats, as well as where to fish.

“They’ll be certified as angler education students, so that’s something that’s going to be really good for them. It’s something that will prepare them to come out to the state park and fish whenever they want to,” Masterson said.

The anglers will mainly be fishing for perch at Lake Raven, but will also try their luck at catching crappie, large mouth bass and catfish throughout the morning. Event organizers will be pushing catch-and-release, however, participants are welcome to take their catch home if they bring their own means to store and transport their fish that are of legal size.

“I’m excited to get a whole bunch of first fishes, I find that to be the best part of the job when you are helping somebody, especially a little kid, land that first fish because they get so excited,” Huntsville State Park interpretive ranger John Herron said.

The city has held similar events in the past and has revived the program after several years, as a way to connect the community with the great outdoors. Due to the community’s immense early interest in the Family Fishing Celebration, Huntsville Parks & Recreation administrative coordinator Kristy Wheeler adds that it’s a program she intends to continue promoting every year.

“A lot of people are interested in it, so we are definitely looking forward to this,” Wheeler said, noting that the July 31 event is already sold out. “I think it is a great opportunity for families to come together and learn different things, especially about fishing, and it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”

In addition to receiving their Junior Angler certification, participants will have a chance to win fishing poles and gear through several raffles, and will leave with goodie bags and educational materials that will aid in their future fishing endeavors.

“I’m looking forward to just having a really great time and giving an experience to the Huntsville community that they won’t forget, something that they can use for the rest of their lives, that they can build an interest in and keep coming back to do,” Masterson said.

Family Fishing Celebration will be held on July 31 and August 21 at Huntsville State Park from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a limit of 40 participants at each event. July’s event is fully booked, however, spots remain available in August. Pre-registration is required to participate and can be completed online at www.huntsvilletx.gov or by phone at (936)294-5721. Family Fishing Celebration is a free event, with fishing poles and bait provided by the city of Huntsville. A fishing license is not required and entry to the park is free for participants.

Those interested in volunteering or becoming an angler education instructor can contact Masterson at johnroyce131@gmail.com.

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