What’s the catch?

Written by Mike Larson
    Tuesday, 29 October 2019
What’s the catch?

Of all my childhood experiences, waking up before sunrise to go fishing with my grandfather still holds a vivid place in my memory. My grandparents would pick me up from my house and take me up to Chetek, WI to go fishing for a week-long trip. We would stay at a humble fishing resort and I would share a pull out bed with my cousins who lay sleeping soundly while I quietly rose and put on warm clothes to go out alone on the boat with my grandpa. I always wanted to fish for northern pike or some other monstrous fish, and my grandpa would humor me and let me just keep casting over and over until I grew bored, then gently encourage me to throw a hook and bobber in and try for crappie instead. Of course, pan-fishing was much easier for me as a child, and I would delight in pulling in dozens of smaller but easier to catch fish. We always ended our week with a huge fish fry, and he would proudly tell everyone that I supplied the most fish for the fry, if not the biggest.

IMG 6490At the Urban Ecology Center, we specialize in helping families provide similar opportunities for their children to connect with the great outdoors. Through a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, we are able to loan out hundreds of fishing poles, tackle, and gear to individuals, families, and groups through their Tackle Loaner Program. They also provide us with two staff each year (“Finterns” if you will) who help teach fishing programs and maintain our equipment so that it is always ready to use. There is little that parallels the joy that kids experience when they catch their first fish- reminding me of my own experience so long ago on Lake Chetek.

Recently, Wisconsin DNR Secretary, Preston Cole, paid a visit to our Riverside Park branch to present us with a beautiful handmade fishing rod that he had recently won in a fishing competition near Hayward, WI. He apparently caught a beautiful northern pike (not crappie) that turned out to be the largest catch of the event- a fitting accomplishment for the head of the Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin! We would like to give a special thanks to Secretary Cole and the DNR for all of the work you do helping connect kids to outdoor experiences in Milwaukee and beyond!

Mike and DNR

Wisconsin DNR Secretary, Preston Cole, with Visitor Services Team and Executive Director, Ken Leinbach.

Interested in doing some fishing yourself? You can borrow poles and tackle through our equipment lending benefit- we even have fly rods and ice fishing gear for the more adventurous angler. Alternatively, you can sign up for a young person in your life for one of our fishing camps next summer. Just make sure you get a picture of the whopper they catch- whether it be a northern, crappie, or bullhead!

Mike Larson

Mike Larson

Mike is a happily married man living with his family in Milwaukee. As a young child he spent days playing along the banks of the Rock River, fostering a love for nature which eventually led him to study biology and pursue a career with the Urban Ecology Center. He enjoys connecting people with nature through his role as the Community Programs Manager. He hopes that the work he does can help make it possible for his two sons and other kids in Milwaukee to grow up with similar experiences to those he had as a child.


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