An outdoor education

MHS Fishing Club allows students to learn about all aspects of fishing

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Juniors Zach Edel, front, and Connor Bulanek, went after Sand Lake’s rainbow trout during the club’s second outing Friday afternoon.

Crankbaits and flies and spinners, oh my!

Fishing can be a fun way to relax, but it can also be an activity for more serious outdoor sports enthusiasts. At Marshalltown High School, industrial arts instructor Larry Kadner began the MHS Fishing Club in April to open and expand students’ knowledge of fishing.

“It’s brand new,” he said of the group with about 24 students signed up, adding Friday’s outing to Sand Lake was just the second trip for the club. “They fish from about 4 p.m. to about 6:30 or 7.”

After meeting in a high school classroom, students can ask questions, have discussions on fishing and techniques. They then usually get something quick to eat and head to nearby Sand Lake, which contains many species of fish to go after.

The club isn’t all about going down by the water and casting for fish, though that certainly is one of the main activities. Students also learn how to make various baits and lures to attract fish species ranging from rainbow trout to largemouth bass, and stripers to crappie.

“I’ve got the kids making these crank baits and spinners and stuff, so I thought it’d be fun to take ’em out and try out the stuff they’ve made and see if they’d catch fish on them,” Kadner said.

The lures students learn to make are as varied as the species they pursue.

“I have the kids take a blank of basswood, and then they hand-make crankbaits,” Kadner said of the fish-like, multi-hook lures. They are often used to catch larger fish, such as largemouth bass or walleye, but can also be used on smaller species.

Crankbaits aren’t the only type of fish food imitation the students create.

“I taught them how to tie (fly fishing) flies,” he said of the nearly-weightless little lures made of thread, fur, feathers and other materials, organic or artificial. “I have a little spinner contraption so they can make all kinds of spinners.”

Spinners’ primary way of attracting fish is via flash. As a the line is reeled in, a flashy metal blade spins in the water, creating an effect similar to a live fish moving through the water.

MHS senior Brandon Sinclair said he’s learned a lot in the month the club has existed.

“It’s fun being outdoors, staying up and catching fish,” he said as he fitted small metal pieces together to form a spinner lure during last week’s club meeting.

Several students said they’d fished prior to joining the club, and had learned what they knew from family members, often passed down from generation to generation.

“My great grandparents used to fish with my dad, and he taught me,” said junior Connor Bulanek.

Kadner said his main inspiration behind starting the club was, simply, that he likes to fish, and felt students could learn a lot by making their own lures and trying them out.

The group will have at least one more meeting and outing before the semester comes to a close, and Kadner said things will pick back up come the fall semester.

Another member of the club, junior Zach Edel, said part of the fun of fishing is the mystery of not knowing what exactly could get on the end of the line.

“You never know what you’re going to catch and it’s pretty fun to see what you reel in,” he said.


Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or