Young and novice fishermen alike got their first taste of fishing with feet planted firmly on solid ground Saturday morning as Eisenhower State Park hosted its backyard fishing class. Park Ranger Kate Saling and volunteers went over the basics of how to cast with a fishing pole and other topics related to fishing in Texoma.

“For young kids, it is important to go over these things before you get out to the water,” she said.

Saturday’s class was a part of the state park’s summer programming. As traffic is often slower during the summer, this allows for a more relaxed and casual approach to classes and events, Saling said.

During the one-hour class, Saling also went over topics related to the fish that populate Texoma waters. Among the fish that call Texoma home are various kinds of bass, including the striped bass, sunfish, bluegill and others. Saling also showed pictures of some of Lake Texoma’s more unusual residents, including the longnose gar, alligator gar and the paddlefish.

Saling said it is important to educate young fishermen about the types of fish in Lake Texoma so that they know what they are catching, as some species, including the paddlefish, are considered threatened and cannot be kept if caught. Additionally, by knowing what fishermen are catching on the lake, rangers and ecologists can have a better perspective on the health of the lake’s fish community.

“If you are catching nothing but one type of fish and not the others, it might raise questions about why we aren’t seeing these other types of fish,” she said.

The classes culminated in a game where novice fisherman practiced their casting skills by catching plastic fish on dry land. With each catch, the fishermen were given the chance to identify the fish at the lake for a prize.

Among the rookie fishermen at Saturday’s event was Lorelei Kegler of New Mexico, who had stopped at Eisenhower with her family. Lorelei said she enjoyed hearing about all the fish, but enjoyed bluegill and the fish that eat worms the most. She said she got the chance to fish at Texoma Friday and caught lots of bluegill on the lake.

Her mother, Chelsea Kegler, said the family came to Lake Texoma as part of a cross-country camping trip, with stops at many parks across the country.

“We’ve been to many campgrounds and this is the only one that had educational programs for kids,” she said. “Others had programming for 12 and up, but this was the only one for the younger crowd.”