Young anglers learn the ropes at youth fishing program

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., May. 3, 2011
Frank Kraemer of Griswold helps his granddaughter, Shannon Donovan, 3, with her Barbie fishing pole. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Frank Kraemer of Griswold helps his granddaughter, Shannon Donovan, 3, with her Barbie fishing pole. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

It was a sunny Sunday in May. The air was warm, insects swirled above the still pond. In the distance, ducks quacked and fluttered as they headed for the sky.

At the water’s edge, two little girls stood patiently, rods in hand, waiting for a nibble on their hooks.

Hannah Donovan, 6, and her sister Shannon, 3, both of Brooklyn, were hoping to catch a big one at the Griswold Fish & Game Club’s junior sportsman program. The free program, offered on three Sundays in May, is aimed at teaching youngsters the rudiments of fishing.

“We show them how to tie on a hook, how to put on bobbers, how to put on the worms,” said Jr. Sportsman Committee Chairman Gene Savoy. “But mostly, the adults get the tangles out of the lines.”

Hannah was visiting the club on Bethel Road at the edge of Pachaug Pond May 1 with her grandparents, Jan and Frank Kraemer of Griswold, who are club members. But she’s no novice to the sport, said her grandfather.

“She’s fished quite a bit with her dad and gone out on his boat, too,” he said.

When asked if she’d ever caught anything, Hannah nodded emphatically. And when asked how big that fish was, in true fisherman fashion, she put down her rod and spread her palms about 12 inches apart. She’s eaten her catch too, she said.

Shannon was a first-time fisherman. Frank Kraemer cast the line of her Barbie fishing pole, then handed it to her.

“You got a little nibble,” he told her. “Wait till he goes back for it again, and then start to reel him.”

The catch of the day was mostly little pumpkinseeds – flat fish too small to keep. But catching fish has never been the prime goal of fishing. “At least Shannon’s getting the practice of reeling in,” said Frank Kraemer.

“Check to see if you have bait,” he instructed Hannah. “Sometimes [the fish] steal the bait.”

The fishing education program is free and open to kids from ages 5 to 12who want to learn how to fish, said Savoy. Parents don’t have to be a member of the Fish & Game Club for their kids to participate, but they are asked to remain on the grounds during the program, he said.

Volunteers from the club have been running the program for at least 15 years, said Savoy. “Sometimes we get a lot of [kids], sometimes we get a few. Sometimes the kids catch [fish] one after another.”

While participants are welcome to bring fishing tackle if they own it, they can also borrow gear for the day. And the program’s adult volunteers agreed that fancy fishing accoutrements are not really needed to catch fish.

“About 99 percent of all the lures and things you see in stores are designed to attract fishermen,” said Savoy.

“Sometimes they work for fish, too,” said Kraemer.

The Junior Fisherman Program will take a break May 8 for Mother’s Day but will return on May 15 and 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. No pre-registration is required. For more information, call 860-376-1887.

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