Msg 1 Posted: 10:47 AM 02/26/07 (CST)
Thought this was a cool article, I would have joined this club if it was available while I was in school|
St. Paul Central High School / Student hopes his fishing fever is infectious
Starts sport club and keeps eye on becoming a pro
BY DOUG BELDEN
Fewer young people are fishing in Minnesota than in years past, state data show, but a group of high school students in St. Paul is doing what it can to restock the supply.
Central High School's fishing club believed to be the only one of its kind in the state has been meeting regularly since December under the leadership of junior Corey Vance.
Vance, who has been fishing ever since "I could hold a rod," has been trying to start the group since freshman year, but he couldn't get a faculty member to sponsor it.
Math teacher Mike Humphrey signed on this year, and Vance has been spreading the word about the club through personal recruitment and appearances on the school's morning news show.
He holds forth weekly in a group of eight to 15 students most of them boys either in Humphrey's classroom or at casting sessions in the school's pool. The group also has been out fishing together.
"When you come to the fishing club, you learn a lot," said sophomore Tanner Johnson.
The six boys who came to Thursday's after-school meeting got to hear Vance's pointers on catching northern pike.
Standing at the front of the classroom with his tackle box, wearing a Bassmaster hat, Vance offered advice on bait, rods, reels and line, along with such pieces of piscatorial wisdom as "all fish are smart, but all fish are stupid at the same time."
Vance plans to double the size of the group by next year and to help start fishing clubs at other area schools so Central can have tournament competition. In the short term, there is talk of a fish-shaped cookie bake sale to raise money and of plans to reel in new members during the summer.
In trying to encourage peers to pick up a rod and reel, club members are swimming against a statewide tide.
A Department of Natural Resources study released last month showed the number of licensed Minnesota anglers ages 16-44 declined 9.3 percent from 2000 to 2005, while the state's population overall in that age category grew by a half percent.
It's not just fishing that's losing its hold on young people, said the DNR's Katie Kipka. Declines are also being seen in other outdoor activities, such as hunting and camping.
"Just getting them outside in the first place is absolutely the first challenge," said Kipka, program coordinator for the DNR's MinnAqua program, which teaches people about water ecology through fishing.
The competition from sports, clubs, TV and electronic games is so strong, Kipka said, that it becomes a struggle "trying to pull them away from other activities."
The students at Thursday's meeting said their interest in fishing mainly stems from early exposure to it by family members. "(It's) a bit of a genetic thing. My dad likes to fish, I like to fish," said ninth-grader Desmond Flaherty.
That is certainly the case for Vance.
He grew up fishing with parents and grandparents on Lake Mille Lacs and White Bear Lake and lives a few blocks from the Mississippi River, where he likes to catch catfish.
But his passion is bass, and his ultimate goal is to become a pro bass fisherman.
His uncle, who fishes for bass professionally, has told him that he has what it takes, he says, but that it will mean years of hard work. For now, he estimates he goes fishing more than 70 times a year, and he keeps a notebook near the TV at home so he can write down tips from fishing shows.
"I want to get known really big in fishing," Vance said. But first he'll likely pursue one of his other interests theater in college and become a teacher, which would leave his summers free for being on the water. "I'm probably going to be a teacher and then fish," he said.
Doug Belden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-228-5136.
School: Junior at Central High School in St. Paul
Home: West Seventh neighborhood
Accomplishments: Started fishing club at the school
Other activities: Plays football and golf, serves on student leadership team, member of Central Touring Theatre, serves on Mayor Coleman's Second Shift Youth Commission