Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham will host the annual Exceptional Anglers event called “Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’” on May 9 – 11, 2012. During the event special needs students from the Shelby and Jefferson county school systems, ages five to 21 with various physical and mental challenges, will be given the opportunity to fish. Students will also participate in art projects, perform with local musicians, listen to storytellers, and learn aspects of water safety including the proper use of life jackets. Last year’s event was canceled due to severe weather.

New to this year’s event will be the expanded fishing pier, which provides more than double the available space for the kids to fish. The media are invited to experience the event on Media Day, Thursday, May 10. A pier dedication ceremony will take place at 8:45 a.m. on Media Day. The event takes place behind the park’s main office.

“Without our sponsors and volunteers this event and the pier expansion would not be possible,” said N. Gunter Guy, Jr., Commissioner, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). “We are very grateful for their help in enriching the lives of these students.”

Volunteers from many companies including ADCNR personnel will assist and teach students the basics of fishing. Students will each receive a keepsake photo of themselves with their catch. To make the experience a positive one, a small portion of the park’s lake will be enclosed and stocked with channel catfish and largemouth bass to make it easier to catch a fish.

This Community Fishing Program would not be possible without the generous support of area sponsors including Alabama Power, Alagasco, El Paso Gas Corporation, Consolidated Pipe, Syx Bait, Bessemer Eye Clinic, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, Oak Mountain State Park, the Pelham Police and Fire Departments, Coca Cola, Golden Flake, Jefferson and Shelby county school systems and more.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Patrol, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.