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'There is always time to go out fishing': Goodhue Fishing Club growing love of the sport in students

Approximately 70 students, from first-timers to experienced anglers, in Goodhue have joined the Goodhue Fishing Club, to learn everything they need to know about the sport.

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Aurora Wiskow concentrates on learning to cast a fly rod, while Lily Hutter tries in the background with help of instructor Jim Clark of Winona. Both are members of the Goodhue Fishing Club at Goodhue Public Schools.
John Weiss / contributed
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GOODHUE — Three Goodhue Public School students got a nudge toward trout fishing April 2 when they were introduced to the complexities of how to cast a fly rod or spinning rod, tie flies and find trout in the bluffland’s beautiful, trout-filled, confusing streams.

On April 18, that nudge will be boosted as the three fish for trout around Rushford.

Whether nudges become passions for Aurora Wiskow, 15, Michael Roschen, 14 and Yahir Morales,14, is up to them, the trout and the streams.

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Michael Röschen holds a streamer fly he tied April 2 at a session of the Goodhue Fishing Club designed for students to learn to catch trout.
John Weiss / contributed

On April 2, they and about two dozen other Goodhue students, all members of the Goodhue Fishing Club, got expert advice from a few dozen adults, most of them from Trout Unlimited chapters. The club is for all levels, from newbies to more skilled youths, fishing for all species including trout, bass, walleye and northern.

Right now, Wiskow said her fishing fervor is aimed at bass, especially largemouth. Her biggest so far is a modest 11-incher caught near Frontenac, but she has a plan to catch a much larger one: “I have a really good fishing spot, it’s a really good spot for bass.”

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Last year, she caught 23 fish while her dad, Jeff Wiskow, caught 26. This year, she’s plotting to take over the number-one spot. “I don’t know if I can beat my dad,” she said. Still, she has family and friends who might take her fishing and her dad is probably going to be super busy this summer, so maybe...

And then, there’s the April 18 outing with the club. She went last year (she missed the teaching session) and “didn’t catch any trout, that was kind of disappointing,” she said. “It was really cold and it rained the day before.” She did try a fly rod. “It’s fun but it’s a little tricky to get the hang of it,” Wiskow said.

She knows something else that keeps her trying — fishing is fun, it’s a rush with the sudden snap of adrenaline when hooking a fish.

“It makes you want to do more, you get that exciting feeling,” he said.

Roschen is further along in fishing skills; his passion is walleye. “I’ve been fishing all my life,” he said. He’s fished the giant Lake of the Woods and Mille Lacs Lake. His biggest walleye is a very respectable 28.5 inches.

Though he’s probably more skilled than many others in the club of about 70 students, he still wanted to join to learn more, especially about trout. “The club helps me out with getting out more, learning more; for example, fly fishing today,” he said. Last year, he caught two trout, one a 12-incher.

Like Wiskow, he said he will use spinning gear but it’s not gear that he thinks about. “I just like the excitement of catching fish, especially the big ones.” His 2022 goal is to catch more than last year. He’d like to fish more for trout and is trying to learn where to go.

His most important lesson is “patience is the key and the more you get to know people, the funner it is going to get,” he said. “There is always time to go out fishing.”

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Yahir Morales works on getting a hook correctly in a fly-tying vise with help of Paul Johnson of the Twin Cities. They were at the Goodhue Fishing Club’s annual learn-to-trout-fish day April 2..
John Weiss / contributed

Morales is just learning. His first time out was fishing with the club a year or two ago. He has no tales to tell of catching big fish. He said he joined “just so I could learn more about fishing, so I could go out fishing more.”

Though a novice, he has already learned about that thrill that Wiskow and Roschen talked about. He fishes “because of the excitement of catching and to relax.” When he caught something “the adrenaline kicked in,” he said. “It’s fun and exciting to go out fishing with friends.”

Clubs 'sprouting' all over

Robby Ebner, a Goodhue teacher, said he started the club about six years ago when students began asking him to do it. He is from the Rushford area and Mike Jeresek, who taught there, was the one who got him into fishing. His mentor, a very skilled spin fishing angler, was one of the teachers April 2.

At first, the club had only one girl with about 24 boys; now about one-third of the 75 members are girls. “The primary goal of the club is getting kids outdoors” fishing for all species, he said.

On April 18, those fishing with spinning gear will use light jigs with plastic tails or marabou feathers on them. You can catch more fish with artificial and “you can fish a little more water with it,” he said.

The club isn’t alone, said Eric Altena of the Department of Natural Resources. “The youth angling club growth is truly amazing at the moment,” he said. “They seem to be sprouting in virtually every community across the state.”

Some like Goodhue’s are designed to get students outdoors and on water, be in a trout stream or giant lake, he said. Others train for competitive fishing, usually for bass because they are such a nationally prominent species.

On April 2, the Goodhue club was thinking trout. While three sessions had more pizzazz, such as trying out fly rods or spinning gear, or tying their own flies, Ebner said the most important one was Chuck Shephard’s talk on where to find trout. You can be great with a rod and tie superb flies, but without being able to read water, catching trout is tough.

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Here are some key things trout anglers should know, he said:

  • Trout streams tend to have a shallow, fast riffle, a deeper slot, a longer, deeper pool and shallow tailwater leading to the next riffle. 
  • Look for places with overhead cover or deeper pools to protect fish from avian predators, shelter from the current and food. 
  • Food tends to come down the fastest water but if trout stayed in the fast water “they will burn up too much energy,” he said. Fish where the faster water slows into the slower water.
  • Try to be invisible with camouflaged or duller gear, keep your shadow off the water, stay out of the water if you can and use vegetation along streams to hide you while you cast. “Crawling is allowed,” he said.
  • Before your first cast, spend a minute or two to look at the water to decide where to fish and maybe see if a hatch is going on. Make your first cast in the place that looks best.
  • An ideal day would be overcast, even with a bit of drizzle, water temperature around 55 degrees and an insect hatch. It’s very possible the Goodhue students will get those conditions April 18. But with trout and trout fishing, you never know.

John Weiss has written and reported about Outdoors topics for the Post Bulletin for more than 45 years. He is the author of the book "Backroads: The Best of the Best by Post-Bulletin Columnist John Weiss”

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