Barnesville’s New Fishing Team

Ben Penner, Writer

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Barnesville High just recently started a new school sport, fishing. People go fishing all the time, but not as a school sport. The one who came up with the idea is Casey Ehlert. He works at the school and helps everyone with their technical problems, but he fishes as often as he can when he isn’t working. He, along with seventeen other schools started a fishing team. It started four years ago when Brainerd started their own fishing team, and ever since then, it has started becoming very popular.

The official start date of the team is Tuesday, May 1st at 6:00pm in the library. The last day to apply is May 15th, but Ehlert is willing to work with students who apply later than the deadline. Ehlert is one of the people in charge of the team. He  mentions that the school will also hold school functions and have four dates set for League Night. Ehlert also says that the official HOL meetings will be throughout the summer. There will be a few meets starting near the end of June, some throughout July, and ending in the beginning of August, but those dates have not been set yet.

Ehlert encourages as many kids to sign up as possible, but you don’t have to feel obligated to. He said, “Some schools around here said that they only have four to six kids. Other schools that have done it before us, by their second or third year, they’re up into the fifties and sixties. Brainerd is up to 160 kids.” Ehlert plans on meeting once a month for the first year, which he thinks will be next year. He said, “For our first year, I plan on meeting once a month. We’ll find a date that works for everyone. And then we’ll have guest speakers come in, different area guys that fish. There might be someone from the F-M Walleye Club, the Fargo Muskie Club, some of the bass clubs around here, and there’ll be projects like making our own tackle and lures, learning about fish seasonal movements, weeds and all sorts of fun stuff.” They’ll have their meetings in the high school, but Alison Willers, who is a Kindergarden Teacher at Atkinson Elementary here in Barnesville, will also be in charge along with Anthony Hermes, who is one of the math teachers in the high school building. Willers mentions where the teams are looking to travel to for competitions, “The HOL fishing league is looking for events at Detroit Lakes, Star Lake, North and South Lida by Maplewood and Big Pine.”

The cost of the membership is $55. That money covers being part of the Student Angler organization, and that includes insurance and protection. Another part of that $55 is for the Heart O’ Lakes League, and the four league nights. There will be fundraisers and possibly a few scholarships in the works. Ehlert says that a lot of companies have started donating items to the fishing teams to help out. You’ll need your own equipment, but if you don’t have something, you can borrow it from another teammate, a boat captain, or use a donated item. Boats will be provided and boat captains can be an older sibling, mom, dad, cousin, grandma, or grandpa. Your boat captain will be fishing with you. Elhert says that you can choose your teammates, or he can assign you teammates.

Willers says that when they are out on these lakes for the competitions, “We will practice catch and release fishing.” Ehlert adds, “And when they do catch the fish, they will measure the fish, put something special by it, and take a picture to tell the judges that it’s not fake. The photo will be sent through an app.” No one knows the name of it because it’s still being developed. The the fish will be released back into the water. Points will be determined by the size of the fish, the species of it, and what your GPA is. If your GPA is a 3.0, you’ll get an extra bonus point, or if your GPA is 4.0, you’ll get another bonus point. Points are counted with the whole team, not just the individual person. Ehlert mentions that there are talks with MSHSL to make it an official school sport, there aren’t any grade guidelines yet. Willers says that they will be following the Minnesota DNR regulations. Ehlert adds, “If you’re sixteen or under, you don’t need a fishing license, but if you’re over sixteen, you’ll need one.”

There will be uniforms with the team, each team member will get a jersey with their team logo and a few sponsors on them as well. They might be donated, but that is being worked on at the moment. This sport will become very popular in a short amount of time. Ehlert predicts that MSHSL will possibly make it an official school sport by next year. This sounds like a really fun sport to check out, even if your not an experienced fisher.

 

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