student lily morris with fishWith their life jackets securely fastened and tackle boxes in tow, 10 giggling fifth-grade girls from Elm Creek Elementary traveled to Weaver Lake for their first (official) fishing adventure on June 4.

After more than a month of after-school learning in the Elm Creek Fishing Club, students were eager to spend an afternoon on the water. Dan Baker, fourth-grade teacher at Elm Creek, led the club again this year after a successful debut last year. The primary focus? To expose students to the sport who may not have the opportunity to fish otherwise.

“I have a passion for fishing and I want to see the sport grow,” he said. “Through the club, we’ve tried to find a way to target groups of people who are historically underrepresented in fishing. Last year, we worked with boys of color in fourth- and fifth-grade; this year, we shifted our focus to fifth-grade girls and had 10 students apply.”

Club members met four times after school to learn about water safety, boat safety, fishing equipment and species of fish. To help them excel on the water, they practiced casting, tying fishing knots, and explored the contents of their tackle boxes.

This year, Baker asked for donations to help fund the Elm Creek Fishing Club via a DonorsChoose.org site; he also enlisted the support of several community partners. Tuned Up Custom Rods donated the fishing poles; Clam Outdoors provided the reels, fishing line and hats for each girl; and Larry Hanson, a local professional fishing guide, lent his expertise and boat for the Weaver Lake excursion.

“There’s been a ton of enthusiasm from the kids,” Baker added. “When we reviewed the girls’ applications earlier this year, some students commented on how they used to fish, how their grandpa would take them out fishing, or how they missed fishing. It’s been fun to see the girls get excited about fishing and have fun with it.”

PHOTO: Lily Morris, Elm Creek Elementary fifth-grader, proudly displays a largemouth bass she caught during an excursion with the Elm Creek Fishing Club at Weaver Lake on June 4. 

RELATED: Elm Creek Elementary girls learn how to fish (CCX News)