Holidays left you craving some r and r? Early Saturday, you can get a little of both by taking an in-town fishing trip.
"A lot of the people who come out here to fish don't seem to care a whole lot about whether they catch something. For them it's really just about enjoying the weather and spending time with family and friends," says Matthew Dawson, a naturalist helping with Chandler's free urban fishing clinic. The event begins 8 a.m. at Veterans Oasis Park.
Anglers and amateurs eager to spend a pretty day outdoors can fish the five-acre lake without the urban fishing license normally required by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. To do so, anglers must stop by the agency's on-site booth prior to dropping a line in the water.
The lake, which is situated between Chandler's new Environmental Education Center building and trail system, will be stocked with rainbow trout, including some choice "incentive" fish that measure 13-18 inches and four or more pounds - in other words: whoppers.
Game and Fish will provide a limited number of poles and some bait, and instructors will be on hand to share fishing and wildlife information. If you have your own bait and tackle, bring them.
Inside the education center, children will be able to make crafts, play games and watch the staff feed the resident snakes. Children's musical performer Maureen Conlin will lead interactive music sessions for children at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., and the Arizona Herpetological Society will exhibit live reptiles.
There is also a raffle for outdoor- and environmental-themed prizes, and a contest to name the center's six resident snakes - a coachwhip, gophersnake, lyresnake, mountain kingsnake, desert kingsnake and glossy snake.
Dawson, a naturalist at the education center, says other big events at the site have drawn a couple hundred people. He's hoping for a similar turnout.
Fishing without a license will be permitted until noon, when the event ends. After that, anglers 14 and older will need an urban fishing license. Class U licenses are good through Dec. 31, 2009, and are available for $18.50 from most sporting goods stores or from www.azgfd.gov. They're good at Desert Breeze and Veterans Oasis lakes in Chandler; Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert; Red Mountain and Riverview lakes in Mesa; Papago Ponds one, two and three in Phoenix; Chaparral Lake in Scottsdale; Canal and Kiwanis lakes in Tempe; and several other lakes outside the East Valley. Class D licenses, good for one day at the same lakes, are available for $16.25 to $17.25.
Licenses are not available at the park or education center, but a list of nearby stores that sell licenses is available online at www.chandleraz.gov/veterans-oasis.