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Southwest Orange Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 4 years ago

Gone Fishin': Bridgewater Middle Fishing Club encourages students to learn the craft

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The Bridgewater Middle School Fishing Club brings together kids of all skill levels to enjoy the sport each Wednesday.
by: Steven Ryzewski Former Sports Editor

HORIZON WEST Each Wednesday, once school has let out, they trek as a group down the sidewalk, fishing poles in hand.

They are the members of the Bridgewater Middle School Fishing Club, which had its third meeting of the year Nov. 29. The club has been around in some form for a few years now, and this school year it is sponsored by Bridgewater faculty members Charles “Chip” Harbin, Joseph Cormier and Matthew Mowel.

The members gather on campus after school, retrieving their equipment for those who brought and dropped off their own poles or tackles boxes in the morning. Poles are provided for students who do not have their own. After any announcements, the group’s experienced fishers will walk into the Independence neighborhood adjacent to the school, while the less-experienced members will stay behind for a tutorial before heading over themselves.

The meetings so far this year have drawn between 15 to 20 kids. It’s a mix of students such as Tripp House and Carter Hicks, who have been fishing since they were toddlers, and students who are completely new to the sport.

“I want the kids with experience to take initiative and share tips with the other kids,” Harbin said.

The club — mostly boys, but it had three girls at its most recent meeting — operates somewhat informally once the group reaches its destination for the day, usually one of the small bodies of water scattered throughout Independence.

Students spread out, with some clustering and others striking out alone to find the perfect spot. During the most recent meeting, Principal Andrew Jackson even joined in.

It’s relatively quiet at first, and the group gets some curious stares from passing residents jogging or walking their dogs, but eventually shouts of, “I got one!” fill the afternoon air.

For an experienced fisher such as Hicks, a sixth-grader who said the largest fish he has ever caught weighed in at an impressive 20 pounds, it is an exciting thing to share his love of fishing.

“We’re able to meet different people and we can get more people into the sport,” Hicks said.

Harbin is in his first year as a sponsor and said the goal is to help newcomers catch a fish as soon as possible. After that, the sponsors will start to hone in more on technical elements.

The club will continue to meet from about 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays. In the coming weeks, the hope is to elect officers, so the kids will take more charge. There are also hopes for some fun events and to have a guest speaker in the future.

At the end of the day, though, it’s about having fun.

“It really is the best way to end a day,” Harbin said. “Hanging out with these kids and catching fish.”

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Steven Ryzewski was the Sports Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and Southwest Orange Observer....

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