Good Shepherd offers adaptive fishing clinic at Leaser Lake
Susan Bates and Katie Pidstrawski enlisted a group of 17 people to attend a recent adaptive fishing clinic at Leaser Lake, Lynn Township.
The two, recreational therapists at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital, Allentown, were to review basic fishing skills and have demonstrations of special equipment.
The program was designed to help people overcome disabilities and injuries and to once again be able to fish.
Helping were volunteers, Good Shepherd, Leaser Lake Heritage Foundation and members of various sporting clubs.
Bates said they knew George White of the Team River Runners who helped develop the accessible kayaking program at the lake and was a member of the foundation that helped restore the lake.
The purpose of the event, Bates said, was to show various ways to fish using adaptive equipment. There was some adaptive equipment at Good Shepherd and some at the foundation.
White spread the word, and they were able to buy discounted rods at Cabelas.
Some members of the group had their own rods, and some already had adaptive equipment and planned to bring it to the lake to demonstrate.
There was a variety of donations through Good Shepherd. Soon, there was enough to create a lending library of adaptive equipment.
To borrow equipment, go to the Leaser Lake Heritage Foundation on Facebook.
Pidstrawski said it was better to try out equipment before spending money to buy what is needed. People can learn through trial and error what is most helpful.
“We have devices that help people tie hooks on fishing lures,” Bates said.
And then came the rain.
The area around the fishing dock was bright with canopies, and as volunteers arrived, there were even more colorful umbrellas.
The number of people who attended for the program was down from expectations, but volunteers showed up in large numbers.
A few children had signed up along with adults. The youngest was 5.
Some of the volunteers were from support groups that work with people with disabilities.
White said a couple things were put together, such as the knobs designed for saltwater fishing, which only had to be made smaller to reel in a fish. There were fishing rod holders that bolt onto wheelchairs or to the dock.
A sportsman’s electric reel can cost as much as $500, but with a cordless screwdriver and a knob, it will reel in a fish.
White was proud of the work done to revive Leaser Lake after a dam break. He said the kayaking dock built in Topton and fishing dock were put in the assessable area.
Wheelchair wheels would not sink into the gravel used for pathways because it was underlaid with a firm material.
The foundation received $210,000 in grant money and private donations and $5,000 from New Tripoli Bank. Much of the money was reimbursable, so it had to be spent and then the grant money reimbursed the foundation.
Cabelas donated $45,000 for the early use.
The state grant money came from the general fund, Department of Environment Protection, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Lehigh County.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell came to visit.
Other lake organizations call and ask, “How did you do it?” White said. Lakes Minsi, Beltzville and Nockamixon are doing it, with Beltzville’s kayak area ready to go as soon as permits are received. There is a bluebird trail and kestrel boxes at Leaser Lake.
“We want to hook up with the Miracle League,” White said.
He took the waiting volunteers to see a memorial black gum tree planted in honor of Dave Hoch, a founding member of the foundation who died unexpectedly in July 2016. The tree, which does well when planted near water, was donated by Schochary Ridge Nursery.
Hoch was a vice president of New Tripoli Bank and treasurer for the foundation.
Memorial donations made in lieu of flowers were given to the foundation to buy fishing equipment.
Volunteer Frank Herr commented on the day’s event.
“It’s a very nice deal,” Herr said. “Too bad the weather wasn’t better.”