Annual Gone Fishin,’ Not Just Wishin’ event hooks new anglers

Published 4:21 pm Monday, May 13, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The fish were biting in displays that led to surprised eyes and widened smiles for the children in attendance at this year’s annual Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ outing held at Oak Mountain State Park on May 8 and 10.

Held on Wednesday, May 8 and Friday, May 10, with Thursday’s outing canceled due to rain, the annual fishing event which seeks to connect children with special needs to the outdoor excitement and enjoyment of fishing returned for another year of successful fun.

“The annual Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ event at Oak Mountain State Park is one we look forward to each year,” said Gina Womack, community relations coordinator for the city of Pelham. “We had a little rain and a little sunshine, but judging by the smiles, a good time was had by all.”

The event, as in past years, was held in cooperation with Exceptional Anglers, a group that seeks to bring the enjoyment and activity of fishing to children with special needs.

Students from Pelham City Schools attended the event on May 8 and were aided by volunteers from multiple organizations and departments including members of the Pelham Fire Department, Pelham Police Department, the city of Pelham and a number of sponsors including Spire and Alabama Power.

Those volunteers spent time with the children, helped them bait hooks, cast and reel in their lines and helped to finally unhook the fish once they were reeled in.

“The city of Pelham is a long-time sponsor of this special day, which gives students from Pelham City Schools and other local school systems a chance to get out of the classroom and learn the basics of fishing,” Womack said.

Other school systems including Jefferson County Schools, Alabaster City Schools and Shelby County Schools also participated in the event at different times in a staggered approach that allowed the event to accommodate as many children as possible without crowding out the event.

Measures were also taken to ensure that each student was given the best chance possible to catch a fish, which included the netting off and stocking of the area with catchable fish.

Outside of the actual fishing, the children were also able to learn about fish and wild life and participate in crafts, painting and a number of other activities that created a fun and stimulating day of family friendly activity.

Pelham’s K9 officer, Thunder, and his handler Officer Lee Tibbetts, also made an appearance at the event which saw Thunder sit for photos with event attendees.

“We’re already counting the days until next year,” Womack said.

More information on events held at Oak Mountain State Park can be found on its official website at

More information on the Exceptional Anglers can be found at