Angling Experience: Houghton Elementary students learn basics of fishing

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton Elementary School fourth-grader Sophia Blake reels in a line Tuesday in the final day of a class on fishing at the Great Lakes Research Center.

HOUGHTON — Elementary school students from the Keweenaw cast their lures into the waters off the Great Lakes Research Center Tuesday afternoon in search of fish.

While the fishing part was unsuccessful in a narrow sense, they did reel in new knowledge about fish, their place in the ecosystem and strategies for catching them.

The students met each Tuesday for six weeks as part of a class through Michigan Technological University’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

“They’ve been able to learn about fish habitat, fish anatomy and put that all together with how to catch fish,” said Brian Doughty, Outdoor Science Investigations field trip coordinator and technology specialist for the center.

That included learning what lures you would use for fish that swim in different levels of the lake. Anatomy came into play as they learned about the ways fish adapt to their environment.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Zachary Pax, a third-grade student from Houghton Elementary School, casts a line during a fishing class at the Great Lakes Research Center Tuesday.

To help the students better understand bait, Doughty told them about small bugs and their life cycles, and what fish feed on them in the various tags.

“Then this last class is fishing, so they get to try out what they’ve learned,” Doughty said.

They also learned about invasive species and how those came to Michigan waters. For another activity on fish conservation, students designed fish-catching devices that would only target certain species.

“He had a mixture of marbles, ping-pong balls and beads, and we had to make a thing that only caught the marbles,” said Houghton Elementary School third-grader Violet Lareaux, who called it the most fun activity of the class.

She said the biggest thing she’d learned in the class was the different types of fish. In one activity, Doughty would describe a fish and students looked in a book with photos of fish found in the area. Once a student identified it, they took over and picked the next fish.

Houghton Elementary School fourth-grader Max Sidortsov said the class had taught him how many lures were needed for a mix of situations.

Prior to the class, Sidortsov had only caught one walleye.

He’s looking forward to testing out his new skills, “even though I keep getitng snags.”