There weren't many fish biting at FortWhyte Alive Saturday afternoon, but that didn't prevent dozens of children from getting hooked.
The south Winnipeg nature centre put on a family ice-fishing day to encourage children and their parents to tackle the environmentally friendly activity. Judging by the enthusiasm from the pint-sized fishers, bait sales could soon shoot through the roof.
"Tying up the lures is the best part," said Isaac Frayer, 7, who brought his own tackle box and rod and his father, Chris.
"I even know how to put a jig together all by myself."
He hadn't had any nibbles by mid-afternoon but that didn't make the outing any less fun. He still vividly remembers catching his first fish -- a pike -- at FortWhyte in the summer.
"It's a good place for kids to learn how to fish," Chris Frayer said. "It's stocked (with fish) so there's a high success rate of catching a fish, which boosts their enthusiasm."
There was no shortage of that around the fishing hole used by Josh Gadza, 6, and his younger brother, Michael, 4. In fact, much of their time was spent making sure the hole didn't freeze over, even if that meant Michael had to stick his arm in up to his shoulder.
"We've never ice-fished before," said their mother, Linda Gadza. "I thought it would be a great experience. It's a fantastic program here. They provide the equipment and there are experienced anglers here to help us. Everything is here to get you out and doing something in the winter. You just have to show up."
Josh said he enjoyed putting the line in the water but his favourite part was winning his very own fishing rod. He also proved a quick study.
"You have to move the rod so the fish think the bait is alive," he said.
Adam Cox was one of a small number of university students to spearhead the family fishing day, part of their volunteer requirements for an environmental sciences course at the University of Manitoba.
"I'm an avid fisherman myself and I thought I could pass on some of my knowledge. I think it's a lot of fun for families. You can bring out some food and your fishing rods and enjoy some sun in the winter," he said.
But it's not a one-day thing. Dana Race, public programs co-ordinator at Fort- Whyte, said anglers and anglers can fish there year-round. She said the more people get interested in fishing, the better it will be for the environment.
"People who enjoy this activity become advocates for clean water, habitat protection and conservation," she said.