Young anglers eager to use their new skills
Expo event gets next generation ready to get out on the water
For the State Journal
It’s been five weeks since youngsters attended a fishing seminar indoors with hopes of heading to some body of water to practice what they learned.
But the spring has been marked by bouts chilly weather and snowfalls, dampening chances to use the lessons from “Fishing Basics 101” during the Wisconsin Fishing Expo at the Alliant Energy Center. “We’re still waiting,” Emily Rennicke, of Sauk City, said about her 6-year-old daughter getting out to fish after attending the seminar.
Rennicke said some weekend days, Olive, a kindergartner, has been able to use the fishing rod she received at the seminar to practice casting in the gym at the school where her mom works.
While the family mostly goes fishing on the Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin, Rennicke said her fourth-grade son, Cooper, finally got out to fish last weekend on a barge on the Mississippi River near Genoa.
Cooper, who fished with his father, Michael, said he remembered what he learned in the seminar about looking behind him before casting his line so he wouldn’t hook anybody. He also used the fisherman’s knot he learned to tie on his lure.
“It’s a nice way to keep them away from screens and outside and to spend time as a family,” Rennicke said about having her children learn to fish in the seminar. “Even as an adult, we learn something new every time we come.”
“Fishing Basics 101” was presented by Greg Karch, of Oshkosh, who started the nonprofit company“Learn 2 Fish With Us” and is a certified angler educator through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Boy Scouts.
It was part of the annual Wisconsin Fishing Expo, which returned to the Alliant Energy Center after not being held for a year because of the COVID-9 pandemic.
“What I am really hoping to do is to educate them so they can do this and so they can share the skills with the family so they can do this as a whole family,” Karch said. “We want to teach activities that these kids can do especially during this COVID time.”
Karch had seminar attendees demonstrate various skills during “Fishing Basics 101,” which is designed for youths and adults. The seminar included topics such as safety while fishing, how to use a spin cast and spinning fishing combo, how to cast accurately and safely, how to tie knots, fish identification, the use of live and artificial baits, and how to keep a fishing journal.
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Fifth-grader Jordan Masko, of Watertown, gets instruction on how to reel in a fish from Greg Karch during a “Fishing Basics 101” seminar at the Wisconsin Fishing Expo. The seminar included lessons on safety, fishing preparations, knot tying and fish identification.
ANDY MANIS PHOTOS, FOR THE STATE JOURNAL
Eighth-grader Ryah Speciale, of Delavan, gets instruction from Max Kofnetka on tying a Palomar knot during the “Fishing Basics 101” seminar at the Wisconsin Fishing Expo.
Karch was assisted by volunteer Max Kofnetka, who is a member of the fishing team at UW-Whitewater, where he is a junior.
The first 100 youths age 16 and younger received a spin cast rod and reel through the National Professional Anglers Association and Future Anglers Foundation.
Karch said he knows those who attend the seminar retain what they learn because he has received thank you cards from those who came and then remembered a tip he taught them. He also hears from parents about how their children are fishing after the class.
“What we are doing is planting a seed and hoping it grows a whole garden. They will share what they learned with their friends,” Karch said.
Jordan Masko, a fifthgrader from Watertown who helped demonstrate how to cast a rod and reel in a fish during the seminar, said he learned some tips.
“I can use the fishing rod that we got for free to practice keeping my line straight and casting it out,” he said.
Greg Karch shows Gage Haffele, a 4K student from Brodhead, how to wear a personal flotation device during a “Fishing Basics 101” seminar at the Wisconsin Fishing Expo.
ANDY MANIS PHOTOS, FOR THE STATE JOURNAL
Fishing educator Greg Karch demonstrates a slip bobber during the seminar at the Wisconsin Fishing Expo.