AW Fishing Club Expands, Offers Intermediate, Advanced Classes

Members of the Anthony Wayne Fishing Club posed for a photo with Ohio Department of Natural Resources Lucas County wildlife officer Anthony Lemle during the 2023 inaugural season. This year, the AWFC is expanding to include an intermediate and advanced class. For information, visit https://awyf.sportngin.com. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Last year, the Anthony Wayne Youth Foundation (AWYF) tossed out a line, seeing who would bite on the idea of an Anthony Wayne Fishing Club (AWFC).

Within hours of opening registration, the slots were full for boys and girls in grades 3-8 to get an introduction to fishing, so more volunteers were recruited and additional classes were added for a total of 80 kids with more than 60 on a waiting list.

This year, the AWFC is expanding to include an intermediate and advanced class, said club president Kenny LeGrand.

All three programs will begin in June, with registration due by Friday, May 17, and are open to boys and girls.

• The Beginning Summer Fishing Program is for those entering grades 3-12, with no prior fishing experience or knowledge. Two sessions will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in June in several area locations, including Blue Creek Metropark’s quarries, Farnsworth Metropark and Cannonball Prairie Trail. 

A beginner pole, tackle box and weekly bait will be provided. The cost is $80.00 per student.

• The Intermediate Summer Fishing Program is open to youths in grades 5-12 who must be able to tie a knot, put bait on a hook and get a fish off a hook.  Students will meet on Tuesdays or Wednesdays in June and July at locations including the above, plus Delta Reservoir and the Progressive Fishing Association.

• The Advanced Summer Fishing Program is open for up to 15 high school students who must know how to swim, tie a knot, bait a hook and get fish off a hook. 

Team members will meet on Thursdays for six weeks, June 13 through July 25 (except July 4), from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Locations will include Delta Reservoir, Grand Rapids Dam, Weirs Rapids, Nona France Quarry and Blue Grass Island. 

Anglers are responsible for bringing their own rod and reel, lures, waders, water shoes and lifejacket. Weekly live bait and kayaks will be provided. A two- to three-hour float trip is planned for the end of the season somewhere on the Maumee River.

“Our goal is to not treat this as a competitive team but rather to teach some fundamentals and general knowledge about fishing and the outdoors,” LeGrand said. “As avid anglers, we know that skills can vary from no experience to experienced. We will cater to all skill levels and teach accordingly.”

LeGrand is joined by other experienced anglers on the AWFC board, including vice president Louis Pawliski, treasurer Lucas Kervin and secretary Kyle Norman.

“Most of us have fished at all of the locations we will be utilizing for the classes,” LeGrand said, explaining that the variety of locations will give the anglers the best chance for success.

Utilizing different locations has benefits for the students. Last year, many of the young anglers didn’t realize how many locations were accessible for fishing. Also, the variety expands the number of different species that can be caught.

“We have the ability to catch different species in our river locations than we would in the quarry and pond locations,” LeGrand said. “Anything in the lake could be in the river at any point during the year as many of these fish species use the river to spawn.”

“Another added benefit is that we can teach anglers a more diverse range of fishing techniques, methods and tackle,” he added.

Last year, LeGrand was surprised to see one angler hook an alligator gar for a short time.

“I was also surprised when one of the kids caught a largemouth bass that was much larger than we expected we would catch in Mallard Lake,” he said.

The program had a successful first year in many ways, introducing kids to fishing conservation and the outdoors while incorporating safety measures.

“We have seen our anglers out fishing on their own, using tactics and equipment from the program,” he said.

The program gives students who are not able to play other sports an opportunity to be part of a team and connect with other students who have similar interests.

“We had a few times where kids would stay after with the parents and fish longer or even play football together,” he said.

A summer fishing derby is planned to wrap up the season.

The AWFC is in need of more volunteers. Fishing experience is helpful but not necessary. Community sponsors are also needed. A Black Angus steer raffle is underway, with 500 tickets at $25.00 each sold to win either a half or quarter steer.

For more information or to sign up, visit awyf.sportngin.com.

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