Jessica Borrows has one of those names that totally suits her profession.
The part-time Cloverdale resident is the Rod Loan Program co-ordinator for Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. - a program that encourages the borrowing of fishing gear.
"It's funny, given what I do, yes," a smiling Borrows said of her name during a recent visit to Green Timbers Lake, located off 100th Avenue in North Surrey.
This summer, for the first time, fishing rods can be borrowed from the nearby Surrey Nature Centre, giving new and visiting anglers an opportunity to experience the freshwater fishing.
It's part of an expansion of the Go Fish BC! rodloan program launched in 2011 at visitor centres in Terrace, Prince George, Williams Lake and Quesnel. This year, the program has been expanded to Surrey Nature Centre and 11 other sites in B.C.
"The pilot program had good usage, and we hope this will improve, with increased awareness, that the rods are available."
This summer, the non-profit fisheries society also expanded a program of Learn to Fish classes at four urban lakes in the region, including at Green Timbers every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m., ending Aug. 22. Pre-registration is required for the by-donation sessions, and all fishing gear is provided to the young participants (for details, call 604-504-4716 or visit gofishbc.com).
"Those classes are really popular - maxed out with around 30 kids per evening here," Borrows told the Now. "They run until the end of summer, and then we do field trips for schools."
She's eager to hook kids on the thrills of freshwater fishing, and her employer runs a "Fishing Buddies" volunteer program to help do just that.
"Fishing can be frustrating if you don't have someone there who knows what they're doing," Borrows said, "and Fishing Buddies helps with that. It's a pledge that experienced anglers make to help promote fishing."
On a recent Friday morning, Borrows and I met at Green Timbers to talk about fishing. She also gave some angling tips to my son, Jacob, 7.
"That's a perfect age to start fishing," Borrows said. "Kids at that age can really grasp it - casting, putting bait on the hook, all that."
The man-made lake at Green Timbers is stocked with thousands of rainbow trout twice a year, most recently in June. Authorities are loathe to publish the exact stocking date, for fear of creating a mad rush of anglers. Green Timbers is the only lake in Surrey stocked with fish, Borrows added.
"Bobber-and-bait fishing works in here, for sure," Borrows said. "It's more relaxed, hang out time. But lure fishing, like we're doing today, is more active, more fun for kids."
As Borrows educated Jacob about closing the bale shut and reeling in the line, Alex Boyes stood nearby on the south shoreline, recently built up with sandbags and furnished with metal rod holders.
"I come here every couple of days," Boyes said. "It's fun, relaxing, and the fish are in here."
Two evenings previous, Boyes landed a 10-inch trout. "I usually don't keep the fish I catch, but I had to keep that one. He swallowed the hook. He was done."
For the record, it's a two-fish limit at Green Timbers.
Boyes is just happy to be able to share the fishing experience with his young children, on occasion, at a lake so close to home. "They enjoy it, too," he said. "People here are nice and very helpful, always willing to share what works best (to catch fish)."
After an hour at the lake, Jacob was dubbed "a casting machine" by Borrows, who clearly loves to teach kids to fish.
"I never gave up the hanging-out-with-kids part of my job," she said. "It's why I started and why I'm still here."
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