Borderland fishing club reels more desert dwellers into the sport

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El Paso’s desert climate is not stopping anglers from finding a local fishing hole in the borderland thanks to the El Paso Texas Fish & Game fishing club.

“El Paso is not known for fishing, but there are lots of spots where you can go cast a line and catch some fish,” said El Paso Texas Fish & Game founder Pete Chavez.

What started off as a simple Facebook group for locals interested in fishing, has turned into one of El Paso’s most well-known fishing organizations.

El Paso Texas Fish & Game brings together men and women, anglers, not only to enjoy fishing in canals, rivers, and lakes around the borderland, but to also give back to the community.

“We are in a desert, but there are a lot of us out here who love fishing and the acknowledgement for what we do makes us love what do even more,” Chavez said.

Local Angler fishing for bass at Ascarate Lake. Photo by Aaron Prieto

The group began as a bunch of guys who wanted to get more people in El Paso to enjoy fishing as a hobby, according to Chavez. They started by teaching people how to fish.

“We help out with all there is to know about fishing. From lines, bait, rods, and fishing locations. The main spot is Ascarate Lake, but there are lots of spots such as Hideaway Lakes in Tornillo, Texas, some popular canals, even places near New Mexico where you can fish,” Chavez explained.

Since the group was founded in 2018, EPT Fish & Game has quickly grown from a handful of anglers to 739 members.

EPT Fish & Game holds events and tournaments at local fishing spots not only for members to enjoy competitive fishing, but to raise money for military veterans in the region.

“We have been recognized by the City of El Paso and Acarate Fishing Club for what we do. The entry fees for our events go to providing military veterans with rods and gear for fishing. That is one project we recently started,” Chavez said.

EPT Fish & Game is aimed at building awareness about the benefits fishing can provide. Membership is free.

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Rick Rodriguez and son having no luck catching fish at Ascarate Lake, but enjoying the time together. Photo by Aaron Prieto

“I’ve been fishing for a couple years now and recently started fishing here at Ascarate Lake. I haven’t had that much luck but It is very relaxing,” said Rich Rodriguez, a member of EPT Fish & Game. “It lets me spend time with my family and it’s just nice to go out and enjoy the outdoors,.”

The organization has also helped bring more anglers to lesser known places such as Hideaway Lakes in Tornillo and Licon Dairy in San Elizario. The Licon Dairy farm has turned a small artificial lake into another local fishing spot.

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Angler at Hideaway Lakes in Tornillo, Texas casting his line fishing for catfish. Photo by Aaron Prieto

 

It takes some skill, such as learning how to hold a rod or tossing the line, but it is more luck than skill. Sometimes the fish just don’t want to bite,” said El Paso angler Charles Sparks.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department makes it possible for people catch a stringer full of fish in our desert climate. The agency stocks Ascarate Lake monthly with catfish, bass, crappie, bluegill and trout.

Anglers can purchase a Texas or New Mexico license at sporting goods stores or from the state website.

All-water Fishing licenses range from one-day fishing for $11 to yearly licenses priced at $40. Lifetime licenses are available to those who wish to spend a many years to come fishing on the banks of lakes and rivers, including the Rio Grande.

“We hope to keep this organization going, hope to see more people get their fishing license, and hope to keep providing locals with the knowledge and equipment they need to pick up a rod and start fishing,” Chavez said.

 

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