Arnold Air Force Base – The public is invited to Morris Ferry Bank Fishing Park at Woods Reservoir on June 9 to take part in the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s (TWRA) Kids Free Fishing event, hosted by TWRA, AEDC and the Air Force.
The park underwent renovation conducted by TWRA and funded by AEDC and Franklin County. The occasion will mark the beginning of an annual opportunity for young people to enjoy a day of fishing without a license from the facilities.
Todd St. John, Fisheries biologist for TWRA Region 2, says he has fond childhood memories of fishing at Morris Ferry Dock and is encouraging parents to take their children to the fishing event.
“My dad used to take me to Woods [when] I was probably 10 years old,” he said. “I remember going crappie fishing quite a bit when I was a kid, had a really good time. I remember the Morris Ferry area and some of the history and heritage behind it.
“It was a neat place. It was still kind of rustic looking, but there were a lot of boats and a lot of people fishing and there was the bait store. There were pictures of musky and crappie, bass – a lot of neat things that spark your interest as a kid and made you want to go fishing. That would’ve been in the mid-1970s.”
St. John said restoring Morris Ferry Dock has been a collaborative and worthwhile effort from the project’s genesis to when it was completed in 2011.
“Our agency budgeted money, time and expertise for the project, but financial help from AEDC was crucial,” St. John said. “With the financial help of the U.S. Air Force at AEDC and the support of local government officials and a group called ‘Friends of Morris Ferry,’ the TWRA began work a few years ago to revitalize the area. It was important to bring that back to where future generations could enjoy it and restore it.”
Chris Elkins, AEDC’s natural resources manager, said Morris Ferry Recreation Area currently has many amenities, including two fishing piers, a fishing platform, a fishing bridge that allows access to the piers that are on opposite banks, picnic tables, benches, a graveled parking area, and a repaired and improved boat ramp where large pontoon boats can safely launch.
St. Johns said, “In the fall of 2010, they [TWRA’s engineering division] re-poured the ramp and now they’ve provided an ADA component courtesy pier, a parking area and a sidewalk, a hard concrete surface sidewalk that goes to the courtesy piers. It is all ADA compliant.”
With financial help from AEDC and Franklin County, TWRA crews built the fishing structures and placed fish habitat all around the shorelines adjacent to Morris Ferry.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of improvement out there, not only the docks, but also to help the fisheries,” Elkins said.
St. John and Elkins are expecting a good turnout June 9, which is National Free Fishing Day across Tennessee.
Channel catfish will be stocked prior to the event. Fishing equipment and bait will be available to kids that are not equipped. Participants will also be accommodated with food and drinks.
“From 7 a.m. until noon on that day you don’t have to have a license to fish,” St. John said. “The main goal of these free fishing rodeos is to introduce kids to fishing and provide that common activity, with a parent or grandparent, so that they can go out and have a good time, learn how to fish and hopefully spark an interest that will make them say ‘hey Dad, let’s go fishing again, that was fun.’”