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Kids’ fishing class offered at nature center

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WELLESLEY ISLAND — Raindrops didn’t deter children from attending a free fishing class Saturday at the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, off Cross Island Road.

About two dozen people — both children and adults — attended the lesson on traditional fishing with worms and lures, which was taught by Spider Rybaak, a fishing blogger from Canastota. Later that day he offered a fly-fishing class.

“A sprinkle like this can work to your benefit,” he said as people lined the T-shaped dock that overlooks Eel Bay. “The small sprinkle seems to stimulate a bite. If you have lightning and thunder, it shuts everything down.”

While some children brought their own poles and tackle, others borrowed equipment from Mr. Rybaak.

Taylor S. Sourwine, 9, didn’t want to touch a worm to put it on her hook. Mr. Rybaak said he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty because he loves sharing his passion of fishing with others. It then paid off for Taylor.

“I caught a baby large mouth bass,” she said, as she held up the fish, which was no more than a few inches long. “I’m waiting for that Northern (pike).”

She attended the event with her grandmother, Cindy Skinner, Redwood.

“You live up here and you’ve got contact with the water whether you know it or not,” Mrs. Skinner said.

Participants didn’t seem to mind when the dock swayed; all of them were steady on their feet. Patrick Mongell, Fort Drum, brought his sons, Jacob, 10, and Anthony, 5, for a little guy time.

“I’ve been deployed a lot and haven’t had a chance to fish a lot,” he said. “We fish wherever we can find a place. Growing up, I did a lot of trout fishing, and for whatever was biting.”

He said fishing with his sons is all about teaching them conservation, and learning what fish you can keep and eat.

Jacob said the easiest part of fishing for him is casting, while the harder part is reeling in a fish once it is hooked.

Anthony, a member of Cub Scout Pack 33, Black River, worked to earn his fishing belt loop Saturday, as did a few others from the pack.

Mr. Rybaak said he continues to fish and teach people about the sport because it has always kept him out of trouble since his youth, and he enjoys moments such as those he experienced Saturday, which included helping a 3-year-old girl fish for the first time, giving children lures and celebrating with them as they caught fish.

Although most fish caught off the dock were round gobies and perch, Mr. Rybaak said he enjoys fishing for salmon and walleye.

Kimbrie M. Cullen, environmental education assistant at the nature center, said the children’s fishing program is offered to help spark children’s interest in the outdoors.

“Without kids’ interest, who will be there to protect it?” she said. “They are advocates for our future. Kids are always getting plugged in every year, and it’s important to be in touch with the outdoors.”

The center will again offer the class Sept. 14 and Oct. 5. For more information, people may call the center at 482-2479.





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