“Such a big fish!” “Woah, is that bait?” “Did you catch one?” “Fish up!”
Those excited remarks and many more could be heard coming from St. Bonaventure Catholic School fifth graders as they became anglers for the day at the seventh annual Fish with the Force on Jan. 27.
JACK BRODSKY PROUDLY SHOWS OFF HIS CATCH DURING ST. BONAVENTURE’S FISH WITH THE FORCE ON JAN. 27. PHOTOS BRADLEY ZINT
The St. Bonaventure children, some teachers, administrators and volunteers went across the street from their Huntington Beach parish school to Carr Park, whose small lake had been stocked the day before with a thousand rainbow trout. There, they met with Huntington Beach police officers and representatives from the city, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kiwanis and Huntington Beach Fishing & Recreation Club.
The sunny day was a chance for the children not only to fish (either learning for the first time or perfecting their skills), but also to hear from Department of Fish and Wildlife experts about biology, ecology, physical education and sustainability.
OFFICERS LOUIE MONTALVO AND JED DINEEN REEL ONE IN DURING FISH WITH THE FORCE ON JAN. 27.
Specifically, they learned about water quality, water cleanliness, life cycles and human interactions with the environment. They also received lunch.
“It’s great community outreach and a great event,” said Vanessa Frei, St. Bonaventure’s director of marketing and enrollment. “We are so thankful that the city of Huntington Beach has invited us to do this educational outreach. The children love fishing with a police officer!”
The event started on dry land by learning how to hold the fishing rod just right before attempting that perfect cast. Once ready, the children cast their lines toward some boards set aside that had large holes in them.
Sometimes they cast too short. Or maybe way over. But sometimes it went straight in. Practice makes perfect.
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark stopped by Fish with the Force to provide support.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the kids excited and happy,” she said. “It’s really educational, and it also builds rapport with our police officers.”
Sgt. Jason Melschau — who was on hand alongside Officer Jed Dineen and Officer Louie Montalvo — said Fish with the Force is “an opportunity for the officers to interact with the community in a different way. For the children, being out here in the park and fishing is also a different view of the city.”
One of the lucky kids to snag a trout was Jack Brodsky, 11. The St. Bonaventure team stuffed his catch into an ice cooler for safekeeping. When asked if it was his first fish, Jack replied, “That I can actually keep? Yep!”