Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Texas Trailblazers

Anything with Fins

Say “fin addict” three times and the words are likely to morph into “fanatic.” That’s not a problem for Oscar Castillo, who readily admits he’s fanatical about fishing. Fin Addict Anglers Foundation, a nonprofit that’s introduced thousands of San Antonio kids to angling, was born from a desire to get others hooked on his favorite pastime.

“I eat, sleep and breathe this program,” Oscar says. “I talk about this day and night. And yet, almost every day I meet someone who has never heard about us. They ask me, ‘Where have you been all my life?’ I’m like, ‘Man, I’ve been trying to talk to everybody in Texas about fishing!’”

Even though he was a city kid, Oscar often visited parks with his family. He appreciated the freshness of the air, the way nature changed with the seasons, the quiet sounds of the moving water and, most of all, the fish.

“I love to try to figure out what’s going on under the water,” he says.

As Oscar grew older, he realized many of his friends had never camped or hunted or fished.

“Man, you guys have got to try this!” he told them.

Oscar has likely said this a thousand times by now. It’s the bait on his hook, and it works.

A decade ago, Oscar took Texas Parks and Wildlife’s angler education program; he’s now an area chief. Fin Addict Anglers Foundation events reflect the angler ed curriculum, with stations on conservation and safety as well as fishing skills.

Though he’s fine-tuned his popular clinics, Oscar’s first attempt was a bust. He gathered up all his fishing buddies, then realized they didn’t need his teaching.

“I had invited all the wrong people,” Oscar says. “After that I went to the basketball courts and the gyms and the rec centers and the soccer fields. I said, ‘Man, you guys want to learn about fishing?’”

Friends work together on Fin Addict Anglers’ board of directors, though Oscar’s mom, Rosemary Bernal, is in charge, he says. Hundreds of volunteers make the program run. They’re always looking for more.

Oscar says he’s found happiness giving others what they need to keep fishing for life, on the same body of water or exploring new ones. Anywhere there are fins, as the name indicates.

“It’s priceless. Every day that we are outdoors is a win, whether we catch fish or not.”

Learn more at finaddictangler.org.

 Maegan Lanham | TPWD

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