Even as winter gripped the region, theMaryland Department of Natural Resourceshas been making plans for the state’s young anglers when spring and summer finally arrive.

This year, 38 different organizations in 11 counties across the state are hostingyouth fishing rodeos, providing fun and engaging educational opportunities for nearly 5,000 children.

“This is really exciting time of year,” saidYouth Fishing Rodeo ProgramCoordinator Mike Anderson, who works with local organizations in developing these department-sponsored events. “Fishing rodeos provide opportunities to learn basic angling skills in a fun and safe environment, develop an understanding of the environment and natural resources and provide a unique experience that fosters an interest in conservation and fishing.”

Rodeo events are held from early spring until late fall, with the majority are held in spring and summer. To help ensure everyone has a chance to earn their “first catch,” Anderson and his team are helping raise and supply more than 6,000 hybrid sunfish for this year’s events.

Maryland’s youth fishing rodeo program receives financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

All arefreeand open to the public, although due to space limitations at some venues, attendees should call thecontact number listedto register.