A statewide free fishing weekend is set for this coming weekend.
Department of Environmental Conservation officials will allow persons of all ages a license-free access to all fishing venues across the state. Anglers ages 16 and older can plan a family fisher gathering from the most basic shore casting trip to a professionally guided outing.
Several planned events offer competitions and youth-clinic activities this weekend. Here are three major events.
* The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs partners with the DEC for a Youth Fishing Clinic at Chestnut Ridge Park, Route 240 in Orchard Park. Events will go from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park pond. To register, call the DEC (851-7010) or Dave Barus with the ECFSC (597-4081).
* A Gateway Harbor-sponsored "Hooked on the Tonawandas Tagged Fishing Tournament" is set for Saturday and Sunday in all Erie Canal waters of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda. Entrants can try for the many tagged fish that have been placed in these waters. For details, call 692-5120 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Martin's Fantasy Island will hold a Family Fishing Derby Sunday, June 26 from noon to 4 p.m. on Grand Island. For more information, call 773-7591 or go to martinsfantasyisland.com.
If your company, club, or group will be conducting a fishing-related event during this free-fishing weekend, let us know today or Monday for inclusion in the Wednesday Fishing Line column. E-mail details to: email@example.com.
> Aliens anyone?
Two nature programs will highlight the presence and importance of invasive species -- mostly unwelcomed aliens -- that have arrived and thrived in area environs.
Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve will hold an "Alien Invaders Family Fun Fest" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the preserve's Environmental Education Center in Cheektowaga.
Exhibits and activities will emphasize the presence and affect of these habitat invaders. The event is free, no registration is required, and the program is open to all. For more details, call 683-5959 or go to dec.ny.gov and enter "Reinstein Woods" in the search box.
Tifft Nature Preserve will stage an "Insectival!" Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on preserve grounds at 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd.
Native and invasive insect species live off all sorts of land and in marsh waters. Samples will be collected, viewed, and studied for their features and behaviors. The Buffalo Museum of Science will have an "Insectigation" Station set up to view noted specimen varieties.
For further information on this event, call 825-6397 or go to sciencebuff.org.
> Playing with big toys
Kids of all ages can sit at the wheel of all kinds of vehicles during the Seventh Annual Big Toys, Trucks, and Bikes Event at the Penn Dixie Site in Hamburg on Sunday, June 26.
Organizers welcome children ages 2 to 12 to climb aboard big rigs such as fire trucks, emergency vehicles, construction gear as well as popular car and motorcycle models.
Visitors can also use telescopes to view sunspots, solar flairs and other astronomical attractions. Kids can also bring gear for fossil collecting at a site that offers abundant samples of rock formations.
Proceeds will help support programs such as the Science Adventure Day Camps and other events at the Hamburg Natural History Society's Penn Dixie Site.
For more details on the Big Toys event, call 627-4560 or go to penndixie.org.
> Fair mounts
Winning taxidermy mounts will receive awards and cash in many categories during the 172nd Erie County Fair Aug. 10-21. Entries will be on display in the Conservation Building during the fair. Mounts can be of any North American species from the U.S. or Canada.
For entry deadlines, setups, and other details, go to ecfair.org or call 716-649-3900, ext. 407.