Reel Lines - Summer 2019

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In This Issue:

Reaching Younger Generations

Picture of social media icons on a cell phone

by Emma Vinten, DFW Angler Edu Intern

Ever feel you can’t connect with the youth these days? Whether it be in the classroom, at an event, or in general, the way youth respond and absorb knowledge is ever-changing. As attention spans decrease, how can you increase educational success for younger generations? The answer is simple. Technology!

Despite its reputation, technology can be a tremendous tool in engaging people, especially children and teens in any activity. It can be used to advertise, promote, or as a learning tool. So, what aspects of technology can be the most useful? As a college student, I get most of my information through social media or my school’s online website. 

It may sound scary for some, but social media is the sure way to get the attention of any millennial. If you are using multiple social media apps, you don’t want to confuse your followers by posting 10 different things at once. Next, make sure your post is simple and eye-catching. Social media is for quick and simple information. If you want to add more information, include a link with the post to redirect followers to a website or PDF. Use hashtags (#TexasFishing) to link your post with others that use the same hashtag, so more people are likely to see your post. It may be fun to include a regular hashtag on specific days of the week too, like posting a picture of a fish every Friday (#fishyfriday). Finally, if you are looking to get a lot of followers quickly, one fun tactic is to host an online contest. See who can comment or tag the most people on a specific post, then send the winner a prize. This will increase followers. Remember, use your platform to raise awareness and show how much fun you are having. Texas Parks and Wildlife has many social media pages. Happy posting!

Technology can also include apps like the free Texas Outdoor Annual App (hunting and fishing regulations) or the Texas State Parks App. Or use an online polling game such as Kahoot to create interactive and competitive quizzes. Participants use their phones to enter a pin to join the game and answer questions. It stimulates participation, competition, and keeps everyone involved trying to earn the highest total points at the end of the game. Try it out at your next class!

To reach college age groups, contact your local college or university and ask for the Department of Student Affairs to set up an event or booth on campus. Colleges also post information on their websites, so students can see available jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, etc. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be a familiar face at the nearby college. You never know who is looking for that perfect opportunity you’re offering!

Finally, don’t let technology stop you from reaching out to other age groups. There are multiple ways to communicate online, whether that be on social media or emailing colleges. It’s up to you to advertise and communicate your opportunities. Technology is the bridge to the younger generations, so don’t be afraid to make that positive change!

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TPWD Toyota ShareLunker Program

Toyota ShareLunker logo

By Kyle Brookshear, ShareLunker Coordinator

 Weigh. Measure. Snap. Submit. Since 1986, the Toyota ShareLunker program has been partnering with anglers to promote and enhance bass fishing in Texas. Each season (January 1 – December 31), anglers have new and exciting opportunities to partner with ShareLunker and be recognized for their achievement and contributions.

 All year long, anglers who reel in any largemouth bass at least 8 lbs. or 24 inches, can participate simply by entering their “Lunker” catch data using the free Toyota ShareLunker App or by submitting an online form. The digital entry forms on both platforms allow anglers to quickly and easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed and held. These forms also include simple instructions for anglers who would like to provide a sample of fish scales from their Lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.

January 1 through March 31, anglers who catch a largemouth bass over 13 pounds can report it and choose to loan it to the program for spawning. These fish are entered by calling the program directly – any time of day – at (903) 681-0550 and qualifying fish are picked up. Some offspring will be stocked in the source locations for all ShareLunker Legacy Class entries for the season, and others will be used as brood stock development for statewide largemouth bass stockings.

Stocking offspring, from the Legacy Class entries is collected during the spawning season, and important to fulfill our mission of creating bigger, better bass in Texas; but the catch and genetic data we collect from all of the entries, 8 pounds and larger, is another important piece of the puzzle. In addition to helping us evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker offspring we’ve stocked since the beginning of the program, it allows our biologists to better understand the Lunker bass potential of a reservoir, as traditional population sampling methods do not collect consistent data on bass 8 pounds and larger.

All confirmed ShareLunker participants who enter an 8 pound or 24 inches and larger Lunker bass on the mobile app or website will receive a Catch Kit containing branded merchandise, fishing tackle items and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Anglers will also receive a decal to display their recognition category  – “Lunker Class” for bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches, “Elite Class” for bass 10 to 12.99 pounds, “Legend Class” for bass at least 13 pounds and “Legacy Class” for bass at least 13 pounds and loaned to TPWD for spawning. Legacy Class entries receive the same prizes as the other categories in addition to a Legacy Class decal, VIP access to awards programming during the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31.

To view the official rules, full list of prizes and entry information, visit the ShareLunker page.

Largemouth bass fry in net

Largemouth bass fry from a 14.57 lb. ShareLunker are released into Marine Creek Lake (near Ft. Worth) earlier this summer. TPWD photo.

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Looking for a Great Idea?

Fly fishing board with flies

Jason True, Assistant Park Superintendent at Palmetto State Park, shared a really cool fly fishing resource, a "flybrary" -  fly fishers can take a fly and leave a fly. What a great idea! To order a FREE "flybrary" sign contact the flybrary project.

Photo courtesy of Jason True, TPWD.

Picture of a boy with dowel rod and a fish

Whether teaching conventional or fly fishing, don’t forget to teach participants to “set the hook”. One way is to use a wooden dowel with an eye bolt in the end and some fishing line with a baited hook. Go where you can see the fish attack the bait at the edge of the water. It is an exercise in humility to be able to see sunfish go for the bait and reacting timely to set the hook. This skill transfers to any type of fishing and to increase your catch rate. What a great idea!

Have your own “Great Idea” from an event or class? Share your ideas and photos with us on our Texas Parks and Wildlife – Texas Angler Educators Facebook page - or email us and we will post them for you.

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Instructor Essentials and Program Updates:

What's New?

TPWD Outdoor Annual Phone App

By Karen Marks, Aquatic Education Manager

Wow where do I start?

We are very excited to introduce our new Program Admin Assistant, Heather England and our Summer Interns, Emma Brocato (Austin) and Emma Vinten (Dallas)! See their bios below.

The new Outdoor Annual (regulations book) will be available in late August when you purchase your fishing license (hint, hint – don’t forget to buy your license to Support the Sport.)

Please note that due to a limited print run this year, the retail version will no longer be available to instructors for use in classes or at events. Instead you will be able to order a “digest” copy that has only fishing and hunting regulations. The digest version will be black and white and stripped of all advertising. As the world around us moves from a print-based world to a digital world, we are encouraging folks to download and use the FREE Outdoor Annual App. We created a flyer about the App; you can download and print it from the Instructor Resources webpage or better yet, just show them the App on your phone! In addition to the regulations, the App has a link to the Fishing Reports, Consumption Bans, Catch and Release Tips, Tagging Instructions and more. Once you download the free App, you can use it anywhere to look up regulations--no internet connection is required to view the downloaded copy.

We have a NEW Instagram account, #GoFishTexas. Be sure to share your tips and photos with us!

After two long years (post Hurricane Harvey), our Houston field staff Greg Akins has a new office. Greg’s former employer Houston Parks and Recreation Department has generously provided office and storage space for him. The building has some cool history, as it was once an office for NASA’s Mercury Program in the late 1950’s – early 1960’s. So, where Astronauts once roamed the halls, now you can find Greg roaming the halls again – but this time as a TPWD employee.

You may have noticed that we recently updated our supply order forms to make them fillable (using Adobe Acrobat). You can even open it and fill it out on your phone, hit the "Submit" button and it's all done!

We have also updated the paper report form to include a third page where individual instructors can track and report their time for a class or an event that spans several days or weeks. As you may recall, our federal grant requires that instructors report their time by individual dates. Of course, we prefer to receive online reports. Not only because they are more likely to pass an audit, but because it saves staff a lot of data entry time. But if you miss the 45-day online reporting window and you have to send in a paper report form, we hope the report’s time tracker will make it a little easier for you to track and report your time.

The supply forms and report form can be found on the Instructor’s Resource webpage along with the supply catalog, teaching aids, activities and lessons that you can use in your classes or at events.

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New Angler Education Staff

Heather England - Angler Education Administrative Assistant

Picture of Heather England

Hello TPWD Volunteers!

I’m honored to be joining your team as the newest administrative assistant for the Project WILD and volunteer educator teams! I am a native Texan and outdoor enthusiast, educated in Texas history and experienced in volunteerism.

My fondest childhood memories are of spending summers traveling around the country visiting national and state parks and of the richness of the cultural and educational experiences provided by park staff and volunteers. It has long been an aspiration of mine to work with the wonderful volunteers at Texas Park and Wildlife. After leaving the U.S. Army I completed my bachelor’s at Texas State University with a degree in anthropology and geography, then went on to volunteer at the Bullock Texas State History Museum and guide tours at our beautiful Texas State Capitol before moving on to work with the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Division.

I am enthusiastic about this new chapter and hope to provide all of you with the best support possible in your continuing mission to foster curiosity and enthusiasm for the outdoors and wildlife in future generations.

Emma Brocato - Angler Education Intern, Central Texas

Hello! My name is Emma, and I am a recent graduate of Texas Tech University! (Wreck ‘em!) My Bachelor’s degree is in agricultural communications, with a minor in natural resources management. I am a huge supporter of wildlife, so it is an incredible honor for me to now work at TPWD. My professional skills include photography (wildlife, plant & landscape), writing, design and public relations. Please feel free to check out some of my work on my website.

My outdoor hobbies include camping, hiking, fishing and the occasional kayaking excursion. I love all of the wilderness that Texas has to offer, but my favorite region to explore is the central/western Edwards Plateau region. In the next year or so, I hope to achieve some professional certifications, get my photography out there, and continue learning more about nature every day!

Picture of Emma Broccati

Emma Vinten - Angler Education Intern, North Texas

Picture of Emma Vinten

My name is Emma Vinten and I am super excited to be the 2019 Aquatic Education Intern for Texas Parks and Wildlife in DFW! I have always loved the outdoors, especially marine environments, so I was ecstatic to find this opportunity. I was born in California then lived in North Carolina for about 13 years. I moved to Texas the beginning of my 9th grade year and was an officer in my high school marching band’s color guard for about three years. Art, music, and anything water related are some of my favorite activities! Growing up, my mom was a science teacher and my dad a landscape architect, so I have also always had that extra love for anything science related. I am currently attending Texas A&M at Galveston, class of 2022, and am majoring in Marine Biology. Gig’em! My favorite class in college so far has been my Natural History of Vertebrates class. We did about six dissections and learned about the evolution and anatomy of primitive animals. I mainly chose a biological field of study because it has always fascinated me when learning about how living things function and thrive in such diverse environments. Wanting a way to somehow share with the world what I have learned thus far, I knew this internship would be a perfect fit! It really clicked for me to know what I wanted to do as a career whenever my classes would visit aquariums, go bag seining, or do a dissection, so don’t be afraid to branch out and go on those adventurous field trips! With this Texas Parks and Wildlife internship, I hope to learn more about our Texas freshwater environments while helping to foster the younger generation’s interest in the outdoors!

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Match The Hatch

By Keira Quam, TPWD Training Specialist

When teaching people to fly fish it is difficult to help them learn what fly to use when fishing. A lot of it comes from experience and practice but how can we help new fly fishers start? One method of choosing a fly is to "match the hatch" or use what you find in nature, to help determine what fly to use. I recently created a practice activity to help give a basic understanding of what flies can be used to match macroinvertebrates for fly fishing students.

Activity to match macroinvertebrate pictures to their names

“Pond Study” 

First, I tell them we are going to do a “paper” pond study! I give each person the West Virginia Save Our Streams’ Benthic Macroinvertebrate Field Guide. This is a good sampling of aquatic organisms similar to what we find in Texas that they can refer to while identifying the macroinvertebrates.

Next, I give each group a list of the macroinvertebrate names they will find today in their pond sample. Then, I give them a snack bag of pictures of their aquatic sample and challenge them to work together as a group to match the names to the pictures. Instructors walk around and make sure everyone has the correct pictures matched to the organism. You can also just give them a copy of this part already completed - it isn't crucial to know the names of what you find in the aquatic habitat. 

Picture of macroinvertebrate and fly matching activity

“Fly Box”

When all macroinvertebrates are correctly labeled, I hand them a sandwich bag or “fly box” and have them see what flies they have that could be used to represent what they found in the water.

I have very little expectation that these new fly fishers will exactly match or even complete the matching of flies. So, after some time, I give each person the answer key, have them complete their chart and ask how they did.

The response to this activity has been very positive. I print the answer key, so each person can take a copy home and use it as a guide for what to consider when they fly fish. This is one way to get them started on fly selection!

For a copy of the activity email Keira Quam. Let us know if you have another idea! 

Picture of matching names with pictures of macroinvertebrates

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New Instructors and Accomplishments

Welcome New Instructors and New Area Chiefs! Staff and Area Chiefs (volunteer Train-the-Trainers) trained 401 new instructors from January to June 2019.

Picture of Tony Van De Putte receiving the new Diamond award

Area Chief Toni Van De Putte receives the new DIAMOND Award from Karen Marks and Keira Quam.

Our Future’s So Bright – We Gotta Wear Shades!

The popular 80’s song, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” was the theme for our Area Chief Training this year. The annual training was held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens, Texas on June 14th and 15th. Attendees traveled from all regions of the state to TFFC for the two-day training and included 24 returning Area Chiefs and 18 NEW Area Chiefs.

In addition to the Area Chief training sessions, we held advance training sessions on Fly Fishing, Micro-Fishing and Saltwater Rigging. Our summer interns also gave an energetic presentation on Social Media and Connecting with College Campuses – they used a fun polling app to test our knowledge called Kahoot – which brought out the competitiveness in everyone!

The Awards Dinner was held on Friday evening. Our volunteer Area Chief Trainers have been very busy this year training new Instructors. So busy, that we had to create a new DIAMOND Award Recognition level for those who have trained 500 or more people.  See the Instructor Accomplishment web page for a complete list of award recipients.

Check out the event photos on our new Instagram page, #GoFishTexas or our Facebook page, Texas Parks and Wildlife - Texas Angler Educators.

If you are interested in becoming an Area Chief Trainer, please contact your regional TPWD Aquatic Education Training Specialist. The 2020 training is scheduled to be held in Central Texas in early June.

Group photos of TPWD staff and Area Chief volunteers

The annual TPWD Aquatic Education Area Chief meeting was held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, TX. Photo courtesy of Willard Franklin III

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