The inaugural Roger Lapenter Smallie School went down this past Memorial weekend and it was a wonderful time. It's hard to summarize the entire event in one blog post, but if there's one thing I learned, it's that the future of fishing and the outdoors is in great hands. It felt pretty darn cool to be able to show the next generation exactly what Roger had worked on so hard so that kids like them could enjoy this amazing fishery.
Out of the many essays we received, we chose two kids: one local and one non-local. Dawson and Jonathon were a prefect fit and the excitement level was at an all time high all weekend. We started the school with a rundown on the history of the fishery and what makes Chequamegon Bay such a unique place. We covered basic equipment and did a little casting practice, though the kids were already pretty proficient. We spent the days on the water catching fish and learning techniques, and also toured the Bay to show the kids areas of concern and the contrasting forms of habitat in both the coldwater and warmwater sides of the Bay.
Highlights of the weekend including Dawson catching his first smallmouth on the fly, and then his first popper fish as well as a very surprising appearance by a Steelhead, in which he not only hooked, but somehow survived an acrobatic battle in shallow water. Jonathon caught a 20 incher and made some great shots at cruising fish and converted the sightfishing opportunities well. He even managed to land a pike that was laid up in really skinny water. Fun times.
Hopefully the kids take what they learned and pass it on to their friends and family, and maybe someday will become conservation heroes like Roger Lapenter was.
Thanks gang for a great time and we're all looking forward to next year!