From the lake to the pan and everything in between

"From the Lake to the Pan and Everything in Between" is a three-day course offered each year as part of 4-H Exploration Days, which offers hundreds of youth the chance to participate in a wide variety of outdoor learning opportunities.

“From the Lake to the Pan and Everything in Between” is a three-day course offered each year as part of 4-H Exploration Days, which offers hundreds of youth from all over Michigan the chance to participate in a wide variety of outdoor learning opportunities.

Midland County 4-H educator Dave Thomas worked with Mid-Michigan Steelheader Chapter members John Hesse, Steve Markucki, Dan Thelen and Mike Boedeker to teach 28 youth and chaperones about fishing laws, ethics and lure-building skills, and then took participants fishing for a day on a private pond near Laingsburg. During the outing, kids not only caught some incredible fish on flies, bait and lures, but also learned how to fillet fish and cook them. Boedeker, Thelen and Markucki gave fly-fishing lessons, resulting in six youth catching fish for the first time on flies.

Fish landed during the day included largemouth bass up to 18 inches, hybrid sunfish up to 10 ½ inches and catfish as large as 28 inches (including a large albino channel cat). It was the hottest day of the summer, so after lunch about half of the youth cooled off with a swim in the pond. Participants received prizes of lures and candy treats for best catches and fish stories. Two youth visiting the USA from Poland were among the new anglers, and they were anxious to take what they learned back to their home country and teach their friends and families.

While in the classroom at Michigan State University, participants had some wonderful resources for learning more about fishing in Michigan. They heard great stories from Dr. Howard Tanner (founder of the Great Lakes Salmon Program) and learned Michigan fishing rules and ethics from Lt. Gordon of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Division. They also crafted their own jigs with fluorescent paints and colorful feathers, tied flies with Tony Pagliei (a member of Trout Unlimited and a professional fly-tying and fishing guide) and built a variety of spinners.

Boedeker provided fly rods and reels, while Project FISH (Friends Involved in the Sportfishing Heritage) coordinator Mark Stephens provided spin-fishing outfits. Many thanks go to Ron Underhill for allowing the use of his pond.

This is the fifth year for the program, and it fills up with registrants early. Participating youth range from 13 to 18 years of age. The Mid-Michigan Steelheader Chapter has adopted this program as one of its annual educational initiatives.

John Hesse is a member of the Mid-Michigan Chapter of the Salmon and Steelhead Fisherman’s Association, serving as the stream committee chairperson and as a member of the youth education committee.

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