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Heavenly Farm Report: Benefits of Fishing

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Many of us handle stress in different ways — from eating to working out.

However, have you tried fishing?

I spoke to local experts who said fishing is therapeutic and plays a major roll in our health. It has been brought to my attention that there are some misconceptions on what fishing is really all about.

I reached out to Ryan Ortega, who manages Hooked on Fishing Park, to let him give his insight.

“Anglers, outdoorsmen and hunters… all of us are some of the most enthusiastic conservationists out here. We’re always doing our part to keep the environment clean and take out more than you bring in,” said Ortega.

Fishing dates back to the Biblical era and is still used as a method of nutrition today.

Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are highly beneficial to the body and brain. But there is also another healthy benefit that the sport gives people.

“It’s been a proven fact that water is a good therapy for people with anxiety and stress disorders,” Ortega said.

Since taking over Hooked on Fishing in May, Ortega has seen first hand what fishing can do for people of all ages.

“One of our motto’s here is to, ‘Help people catch a memory.’

“When I first came here I thought… oh this is cute. But the more I started coming to the park, the more I started believing in that. I had a lady here that was 104 years old  and you can just see in their face when they start thinking back on their memories that they caught before,” said Ortega.

Fishing does not have an age limit. Eight-year-old Carter has been fishing for two years and is always excited to hit the water.

“I caught a fish for somebody. It looked like it had a yellow belly!”

Heaven — “Are you planning on coming back?”

“Well, yeah. Who doesn’t like fishing?” said Carter.

“We try to teach the kids how to handle the fish properly. How to take them off the hook and how to put them back in the water as fast as possible. Our mortality rate is really low. There’s times when a fish will swallow a hook and perishes but we very rarely have that happen here,” said Ortega.

Many neighboring retirement and nursing home facilities also come to the park to give seniors an outlet and let them relive their past.

“I had another lady for the first time in her life bait her own hook and she caught her own fish and it was a personal triumph for her. Another couple here that are both in assisted living together, they’re husband and wife and in their 90s, but they are sitting in on my shore fishing together. There are so many firsts here, from the first fish from a five year old, to a first fish for an 80 year old, it’s just an amazing thing,” said Ortega.

The park is open until October 15, so if you need a little outdoor therapy you can still get hooked on fishing.

Click to learn more about Hooked on Fishing.

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Heart of Illinois ABC

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