Youth learn patience, teamwork, discipline through fishing

| October 11, 2016
Don’t say you can’t until you try.” Ephraim Smiley teaches Jhamore to practice patience when working with fishing lines.

Don’t say you can’t until you try.” Ephraim Smiley teaches Jhamore to practice patience when working with fishing lines.

By Denise M. Jordan

FORT WAYNE—“I got a bite!  I got a bite!”  Zuri danced around the hard-packed sand.  Fishing rod bent, line tight, she held on as the fish on the other end fought to get free.  Several of her peers from Explore Fishing with Urban League Youth ran over to watch and offer advice.

“Brace yourself,” said John Holder, vice-president of Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club. “Take your time and reel it in.”

He hunkered down close to the water’s edge, extended the wide-mouth net, and with a practiced hand, scooped up the fish.  He removed it from the net and showed her how to hold onto the line while the big bluegill flipped and flopped.

“I can’t believe I caught fish.”

She held it up for her peers to admire and admire it they did.  Everybody wanted to catch one.  They picked up their rods with determination and moved closer to where she caught hers.  It turned out to be a good day.  Everybody didn’t catch a fish but everybody had a lot of fun trying.

Joshua get a big one!

Joshua get a big one!

Explore Fishing with Urban League Youth is a pilot program offered by Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club. The fishing trip to Williams Pond was part two of the pilot.  Part one took place at Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park on Wednesday, Sept. 14.  Ten enthusiastic and energetic young people clambered out of the van and huddled up excited to learn about fishing.

Willie Jordan, president of Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club and club members Ephraim Smiley and Limuel Coats introduced themselves and explained the set up.  They organized the kids into groups and taught them the basics of handling a rod and reel, how to cast and how to untangle lines.  Then, they got some competition going with a game of Backyard Bass where the kids practiced casting for accuracy and identifying fish.

The trip to Williams Pond on Sept. 28 was the prize.  There, the young participants got to put into action skills learned at Reservoir Park and see what it’s like to have a real fish tug on their lines.  Smiley, Coats, Holder and Jordan explained how to be safe around water, how to bait a hook, how to set the hook and the importance of teamwork.

“I think taking the kids fishing was a great experience,” said Jason Jordan of Project Ready and mentor coordinator for the Urban League.  “This was the first time fishing for most of them and they really enjoyed themselves.”

When asked why he picked fishing as an activity, Jason Jordan said, “I chose fishing to expose the kids to something different.  Today, too many kids are used to staying in the house playing video games.  Being in nature is new to them.  They’ll learn respect for the elements, to follow directions, and patience.”

He smiled as he reminisced:

“I remember as a child going fishing with my father, sitting and waiting for the fish to bite.  It taught me patience and how to focus.”

Advisors and participants in Explore Fishing with Urban League Youth and Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club at Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park. Back row: Limuel Coats, Ephraim Smiley, Willie Jordan, Jason Jordan, Jyiheem Morris Middle: Daeshawn, Jhamore, Diamond, and Amaya (tall girl with big hair) Front row: Chanlon, David, Khamagi, Damariae

Advisors and participants in Explore Fishing with Urban League Youth and Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club at Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park. Back row: Limuel Coats, Ephraim Smiley, Willie Jordan, Jason Jordan, Jyiheem Morris
Middle: Daeshawn, Jhamore, Diamond, and Amaya (tall girl with big hair)
Front row: Chanlon, David, Khamagi, Damariae

Jordan’s father is Willie Jordan, president of Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club.  Willie Jordan, a retired Fort Wayne Community Schools coach, art teacher and driver’s education instructor, introduced and sponsored fishing clubs at Geyer and Portage Middle Schools.  He is one of the founding members of Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club (FWCFC).  The club’s goal is to provide an outdoor experience for children teaching them how to fish and practice basic conservation skills.  Explore Fishing with Urban League Youth is one of the ways they are doing that.

“Can we go again?”  One youth asked the question but several hopeful faces turned to Willie Jordan.  This was supposed to be the end of the Club’s Summer Fishing Program.

“It’s up to Mr. Jason,” said Willie.  He explained further. “The DNR (Department of Natural Resources) is hosting a derby at Shoaff Park on Saturday, Oct. 15.  If all works out, maybe we could go there.”  Mr. Jason agreed to check the calendar.  The equipment was packed up and the area was left tidier than they found it.  They climbed back into the van laughing, teasing, and spinning their stories.  All in all, it was a very good day.

FWCFC hosts an annual fishing derby at Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park.  Derby 20 will be held on June 3, 2017.  For more information about FWCFC projects and programs or to find out more about Derby 20, visit their website at http://www.fortwaynecommunityfishingclub.com or call (260) 456-1616.

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Category: Community, Letters, Sports

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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