Michelle Thomasini/Daily Globe
LIANA TAYLOR, left, of Trout Creek, and Alex Matushak, of Minocqua, Wis., try their luck at minnow racing Saturday during the third annual free kids’ fishing clinic offered by the Lake Gogebic Chapter of Walleyes for Tomorrow in Bergland. Taylor’s minnow won the race, but she gave Matushak her prize since his minnow kept swimming the wrong way.
BERGLAND — More than 70 future fishermen and women brushed up on the basics and had some fun Saturday at the third annual free kids’ fishing clinic offered in Bergland by the Lake Gogebic Chapter of Walleyes for Tomorrow.
The event at Bergland Centennial Park featured seven stations with information, demonstrations and hands-on activities on the basics of fishing. Kids ages 5 to 15 learned Michigan Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations and how to set up a boat with proper equipment, and tried their hands at fish and bait identification, minnow races and a casting competition.
“We offer the event so that we can help kids realize the pleasures of fishing, and we want to promote Lake Gogebic for the area,” said Dale Gottschalk, chairman of the group. “We’re educating them on everything.”
The clinic began with a brief talk from Terri Carlson, of the Lake Gogebic Improvement Association. Carlson stressed the importance of washing boats and trailers between bodies of water like lakes and rivers to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. “You can wash boats at home with a bucket of water and 1 cup of vinegar to prevent invasive species transfer,” Carlson said.
A boat washing demonstration by association members Don and Joan Harris followed. The LGIA works in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ottawa National Forest’s Ironwood office to educate area anglers on boat washing and AIS prevention.
The kids then broke into smaller groups and rotated through the stations run by various group members and a MIDNR employee. Prizes were handed out at some stations to winners of the minnow races and casting contest.
Following a lunch provided by Walleyes for Tomorrow, each child received a fishing rod, reel and goodie bag.
Gottschalk said the community response to the clinic was “outstanding” and they hope to continue offering it in the future.
“The most rewarding part of the event is helping kids learn about fishing and the outdoors,” Gottschalk said.