By Danelle Landis, Ketchikan Daily News
Cheers flew as grinning kids, stuffed into yellow, red and blue lifejackets jostled to show off their catches of the day.
Fawn Mountain’s counselor, Norm Noggle, held a two-week after-school fishing workshop in April. He then took his 14 fourth- and fifth-graders for a five-hour fishing trip Thursday.
This was the second year that Noggle has conducted the workshop and taken the kids fishing on the Cotant, he said.
“Last year, we were boarded by the Coast Guard,” he said. The students were worried, and had no idea what to expect.
The crewmen “handed out little chits for free ice cream, because they noticed all the kids had their lifejackets on,” Noggle said.
At Fawn Mountain, for one hour per day in the workshop, Noggle taught the students how to tie knots, cast, put line on reels, and identify fish species. He also taught them about Fish and Game regulations, fish habitat and fish-catching strategy.
Noggle brought in experts from the U.S. Coast Guard to teach the students about boat safety, and Fish and Game professionals who taught them about fish species, gave a pop quiz, then coached them through making a “mepps spinner” salmon lure.
He also took his group on a field trip to the Whitman Lake Hatchery, and students asked the staff questions they had created and rehearsed ahead of time.
He said he’d like to add a fly fishing course next year that would teach students about fishing etiquette, how to “read” the water, tie flies and how to cast.
Among schools offering educational fishing excursions is Point Higgins Elementary, where teacher Linnaea Troina will take her fifth graders out on Wednesday. Knudsen Cove Marina sponsors their fishing trip, she said, supplying boats, fuel, and guides.
Ketchikan Charter School teacher Greg Gass also headed up a fishing class this year. Instead of an after-school workshop, his was offered as a physical education elective.
He chuckled when he explained why, out of all the sixth-through-eighth graders who could have participated, only one eighth-grader was in the group of 12 on the fishing trip. Students in eighth grade were allowed to sign up for their choice of elective classes first, and most of them chose more traditional classes, like sports.
Gass laughed and said that the ones who opted out of the fishing class were seriously rethinking their choices when his group was gearing up for the fishing trip.