Fish & Fun Days for the Summer

FISH AND FUN DAYS: By Olivia Roch



Somehow by fluke, I happened to “snag” the best possible summer job. I walked into my interview for a Recreation Technician position for the City of Winnipeg and halfway through happened to mention that in high school I was a member of the Miles Macdonell Angling Club. Coincidentally, the City of Winnipeg was apparently looking for someone to fill a “Fishing Position”. What could be better, I thought to myself.
Fishing, kids, the outdoors and sports. All of my favourite things. As far as summer jobs go, I had certainly hit the jackpot. As an aspiring teacher, being able to share my passion of fishing with kids was more than exciting for me.
With the Fish ‘n’ Fun camps, our days usually worked out to be the sport of the week in the mornings and fishing in the afternoons. Except for the days when Mother Nature had other plans for us. Luckily we only got rained out a few days out of the entire summer. On those days we did other activities inside or other excursions such as mini golf or bowling. Though we didn’t get to fish those few times, we somehow still had fun-filled days.
On Fridays, we would go swimming in the mornings at Kildonan Park Pool and fishing in the afternoons (usually in Kildonan Park as well, which turned out to be a successful and close fishing location). It was often difficult getting our camp of ‘little fishies’ out of the pool!
On Wednesdays, we would take a school bus on an hour-long trip out to Selkirk, Manitoba. The kids often found this ride long, but definitely worth it! There we would meet up with pro Todd Longley, and go fishing with him on his boat all day. This was the only day of the week where we would actually fish on the water, as the rest was all shore fishing.
 In the boat  with Todd!
We always caught tons of huge cats. Having at least one Master Angler weekly. This was almost always the kids’ favourite day of the week. I or the other instructors (Kaitlin, Kaila, Ashley and Nancy) would always have to help the kids reel in the big cats. All the excitement of catching fish that were often bigger and mightier than them.
The other week days were reserved for sports, crafts, group activities and shore fishing. Mondays always called for lots of patience, teaching the youth all the skills they needed to fish.
Basic fishermen’s knots, how to de-barb a hook and how to properly bait their hooks always took lots of practice, but by the end of the week you would think they’d been fishing since birth.
Pickerel rigs and one ounce weights were always our go-to. They brought us in tons of Bullhead, some Freshwater Drum, a few small Channel Cats and the odd Sauger or Smallmouth Bass.

We had the most luck using worms, but sometimes we would have to result to using artificial bait. There were times that the boys and girls would forget to cut the worms in half and we would run out of bait pretty quickly.
Throughout the summer, we “tackled” worm phobias
(which we found out to be more common than you would think!!) and even fears of fish. But by the end of each week, all the kids happened to make friends with their fears!

It was the greatest pleasure to get to work with such wonderful groups of kids all summer. Some children enjoyed Fish ‘n’ Fun so much that they came back for multiple weeks in one summer. The older ones were sad to be nearing or at the end of the age limit for camp. One thirteen year old boy told me that he’ll be back one day helping out or working at the camp. Hearing that brought the biggest smile to my face, knowing I helped make his last year of fish camp such a great experience.

For me, one of the best parts of the summer was seeing so many kids coming from different walks of life and different areas and backgrounds coming together to enjoy the common love for fishing. Knowing that I was a part of such a wonderful program and helped make such an amazing impact on these kids’ lives, is the greatest reward of all.

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