Hooked on fishing

The small bobber slipped under the water. Then came a tug on a long cane pole. It was immediately followed by a large smile as a young fisherman hoisted a perch onto the pier.

The scene was repeated several times Thursday at the State Fairgrounds Pond in Minot. Students from the area have been participating in Hooked On Fishing this week. One of the early classes enjoying their time at the pond Friday was from Bowbells. They were followed by a second-grade class from Glenburn.

“My class has been here before in previous years and had so much fun,” said teacher JoEllen Lee.

The Fairgrounds Pond at the Conservation Skills Park is well-suited to host the introductory program sponsored by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. A spacious fishing pier is equipped with rod holders, easy access to fishing and, usually, some cooperative fish.

Bob Haglund, Garrison, volunteered his time as a fishing mentor for the week. He greeted young students as they arrived at the pond, telling them a few things to expect. High on his list was the importance of having a good time while fishing.

“I enjoy fishing and I enjoy the young people,” said Haglund. “I think I get more out of it than the kids do. I just enjoy it.”

Haglund was kept busy baiting hooks, removing hooked fish and demonstrating how to use a bobber and cane pole. The students followed his lead.

“We may light the fire for somebody,” said Haglund. “Not all will be fishermen, but once they start it might be a life-long endeavor for them.”

While students were happily catching a few perch, a Game and Fish distribution truck arrived at the far side of the pond. In the truck were 350 rainbow trout that were released into the water in full view of the young fishermen. Soon the trout could be seen rising throughout the pond, an encouraging and entertaining sight for young and enthusiastic anglers.

Jerry Weigel, NDG&F fisheries production and development leader, was the person who released the rainbows. He was hoping a trout or two would cooperate with the young fishermen.

“It’s nice to see people fishing but it’s really special to see kids fishing. It’s awesome. You can’t beat the smile on a kid’s face when they catch their first fish,” said Weigel.

The Glenburn students had another stop to make in Minot when their fishing time was complete – the Roosevelt Park Zoo. They had a special reason behind their visit.

“We had a fund-raiser during our reading month and we raised over $800 for the zoo, so we’ll see what we can help them out with,” said Lee.

The Conservation Skills Park and Fairgrounds Pond suffered considerable damage during the flood of 2011. The park was expanded and brought back to life in time for the 2012 North Dakota State Fair. Once again is it proving to be an ideal setting for Hooked On Fishing.