by Michelle Kelly, Aquatic Education Specialist
Minnesotans mark the passing of time by each dramatic change of seasons- fishing seasons, that is!
Waiting for the ice to grow thick on lakes and streams can seem interminable for anglers with visions of ice fishing, ice augers and jiggle sticks dancing in their heads! It’s several weeks until ice houses will appear in temporary communities on across lake tops.
All too soon it will be time to drag the ice house off the lakes again and anglers will endure another long wait for the spring and summer fishing seasons as winter’s snow and ice melts drip by drip… by drip.
Want to fend off those ‘between fishing seasons blues’ this winter? Get in gear! Fishing gear, that is! Inventory and maintain your fishing gear, tune up your MinnAqua Fishing: Get in the Habitat! learning kits, and sharpen your casting skills. Once the ice is ready, you will be too!
Fishing Gear Maintenance: Give your rods and reels a good wash down, lubricate reels, pull out the first 10 or 20 yards of line, check for nicks and weak spots, remove any bad line and recycle any discarded monofilament. (Check with your local tackle and bait dealers – many recycle old line.) You should completely replace the line on your reels at least once per season and always replace weathered and worn line with new monofilament.
Organize and restock tackle: Put some basic tackle (sinkers, bobbers, hooks) in three or four small, clear plastic tackle boxes with compartments. Your spring fishing trip will run more smoothly when your adult volunteers have their mini-tackle boxes handy and can quickly replace any lost tackle to allay frustration and keep the kids fishing.
Restock your first aid kit and check your safety bag (throwable PFD, rope, paper cups for water breaks, sunscreen, bug spray, life jackets, note paper and pen.)
Inventory and spruce up your MinnAqua Fishing: Get in the Habitat! lesson materials and learning kits. Replace worn and missing items. Do you have ideas for additions or adaptations to enhance your lessons? Add new materials.
When the cold winter winds are blowing, sit in a cozy chair by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and read through some of the MinnAqua Fishing: Get in the Habitat! lessons you have yet to try. How might you incorporate a new lesson or several new lessons into your fishing unit next spring? Engage your imagination and dream up a unit that you want to teach! Outline your new unit and assemble the materials into new learning kits.
Involve your students/youth: Together you can generate excitement, anticipation, motivation and ownership in the learning, the fishing trip and/or the service-learning project to come in spring – and your students/youth will equip and themselves with important life-long learning skills. They’ll develop and demonstrate more confidence in planning, in the generative process, sin ocial interaction and self-direction in maintenance and caring for equipment.
Nurture the development of creative problem-solving skills by having students brainstorm ideas for ways to enhance their spring fishing unit, classroom equipment and your learning kits. Their innovative ideas and enthusiasm will surely brighten up many gray winter days!