Folks who are planning on having a swim in the pool at Scadding Court Community Centre over the next few days may find themselves a little disappointed. Those who want to go fishing, however, will probably be ecstatic.
For the rest of the week, the Community Centre will be holding its annual Gone Fishin’ event, meaning its indoor pool will be an indoor fish pond. The pool has been drained, dechlorinated, and refilled with 2,000 rainbow trout, to be caught by local children and families.
Scadding Court youth coordinator Mohsin Khattak says he started the program eleven years ago in the hopes of providing kids who may not have the chance to leave the city with an opportunity to go fishing.
“We used to take kids up north to go fishing, and we could only take a handful of kids every year,” he says. “We wanted more kids to be able to experience what this is all about, so we decided to transform our swimming pool into a live fish pond for one week every year.”
He adds that, more than a decade in, many of the teenaged and young-adult volunteers who now help run the program originally went fishing in the pool as children, which is proof of the impact the program can have.
“It’s a full cycle, and it’s great that we can instill this love in them at a young age, and they want to come back and help as at a later age,” he says.
Twenty-year-old Chanel Hensworth is one of those volunteers. She first went fishing in the Scadding Court pool on a class trip in elementary school, and has been coming back ever since. She says she learned a lot of things while waiting for a bite, and wants to help a new generation of kids learn those same lessons.
“I learned a lot of patience, which is good, because I had none,” she says. “I learned that you have to stick with things.”
Manuel Rodriguez came with his daughter Camilla. He found out about the event from friends who have been coming for years. Rodriguez says it provides an opportunity that’s hard to come by for city kids.
“As an a urban family, you don’t get to do this at all,” says Rodriguez. “We live just a few blocks away, and this is really, really fun. We caught three fish, one of which was really, really big. It was a good day.” Admission is $2, with a limit of one fish per person. Volunteers will even clean a catch for 75 cents.
Khattak says he still gets a charge out of watching kids catch a fish for the first time.
“For me, the best part of it is just seeing the excitement on the kids faces,” says Khattak. “This is the first time a lot of them have ever gotten to fish, and they love it.”