Great Blue Heron Outdoors’s Manager John, went fishing with the Free State High School Fishing Club.
The shop has done a couple of presentations on spin and fly fishing at Free State High School. I was invited to go fishing with them recently. We met on the north side of the Clinton Reservoir Dam, unloaded our vehicles and started the mild hike down to the water’s edge. There were 12 of us in total – 4 teachers and 7 students and myself.
I hadn’t seen the students fishing before, I had only spent time with them doing classwork. I was honestly surprised by their range and variety of skill sets. Not that they were ready to compete in BassMaster however, they were all familiar and competent with their tackle. I should say this now – we did not catch any fish. This blog post will focus mostly on the other aspects of group fishing that are not often seen or talked about.
It was enjoyable but hard fishing that day. Temperatures in the mid 60’s with high winds and plenty of sun made it a nice day in late March. After the first hour went by with not a single bite among the 9 of us that were fishing, I buttoned up my spinning rod and decided to just observe and hopefully see some shad being chased further down the shore. I started to notice that no one was in a bad mood or disappointed by not having any luck. Anyone who has fished for a good amount of time will tell you that getting through a ‘skunk’ can be a personal and internal struggle like no other.
Yet these students were taking it in stride. Instead of retying obsessively to try to find the right bait or getting frustrated with the weather. They just started talking and enjoying each other’s company while idly casting just in case a fish had decided to come near and wanted to eat a lure. It was amazing to watch. I sat back and talked with the other teachers who had decided the bite wasn’t worth chasing.
After another hour of no bites, the students were still in a surprisingly fantastic mood. They wanted to change spots, the teachers and I were happy to have a change of scenery so we packed it up and hiked back to our cars. We packed our gear into our cars then headed to the Lawrence Rotary Arboretum. We arrived at the arboretum and decided to try the small pond first. Still not a bite among the whole group. The wind had picked up and some clouds had given some cover. Still not a single poor mood among the students even with the complete lack of fishing action. It wasn’t long before I had to pack up and leave. I said goodbye to everyone and wished them luck in my absence. Then I packed up and headed towards my car.
On my drive home after leaving the students to their fishing it really started to hit me, just how patient and relaxed everyone had been despite that their planned fishing trip had resulted in not a single bite. Those students reminded me to keep casting and keep smiling. Any angler could learn something from watching young people be resilient and determined in this way while finding entertainment and companionship among each other. Sometimes we just get a little too wrapped up in jig color, weather patterns or water conditions to enjoy who and what is around us. Next time you can’t get a bite and you’re fishing with someone.
Just crack a smile, look around and take the time to enjoy the day!