ALASKA – On March 1st, early in the day, 80 fishing holes were drilled through 20 inches of ice on Grouse Lake, located near Seward, Alaska. By 10 a.m., the temperature was 15 degrees with a breeze and all holes were ice free. With 70 small fishing poles ready, a warm fire crackling nearby and five gallons of hot chocolate, volunteers were ready to greet 61 students for a day of ice fishing.
Most of the students were from the Seward Middle School’s 6th grade and the local home school program. Half had never ice fished before. Lessons on angler ethics, fish identification and ice safety were provided. The youth flocked to poles at the holes and within the first minutes “fish on” was heard, and a Dolly Varden trout was caught. For three hours, the youth stayed mostly focused on ice fishing. Once in a while a cluster of students migrated over to the warm up by the fire and then went back to fishing.
Around 11:30 a.m., the sun peaked over the mountains and the temperature increased by 15 degrees. The grill was fired up and lunch was served. Food and beverages were donated by the local telephone company, TelAlaska. The fishing was good, with a total of 10 fish caught for the day – four kids caught fish for the first time and one student announced he caught 12 (an early start to telling fish tales!)
Vetworks intern Ashley Dodds, Student Conservation Association intern James Ianni, Begich Boggs Visitor Center Director Adrienne McGill, Law Enforcement Officer John Brinley, LEO Trampus Barhaug, Seward Ranger District Customer Service Representative Jim Jannsen, and biologists John Lang, Luca Adelfio and Adam Cross, helped plan and run the event.