The Aitkin Anglers, Aitkin High School’s (AHS) newest sport is fishing. The idea was the brainchild of Kaija Davies. “I needed a senior project for Mr. Miller’s class and wanted to come up with something that would benefit students who are not into traditional sports,” said Davies.
High school fishing clubs are becoming popular all around the state. Three years ago there was only a handful of club fishing teams around the state; now there are more than 300 schools that have a fishing team. It only makes sense in the land of 10,000 lakes to have high school age students be part of fishing teams. Plus, it costs the school zero dollars. Expenses and equipment are paid for by the student-athletes.
The only cost to a student-athlete is a $25 registration fee which provides some liability insurance in case a person accidentally injures another fisher person. With the registration, the students automatically become members of the Student Angler Federation (SAF) and Student Anglers Tournament Trail (SATT). There is no charge to enter a tournament and the team can enter tournaments in other states.
With so many lakes in the Aitkin area, a high school fishing team for AHS made sense. Although fishing clubs are not sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League, the same rules apply to fishing team members as sanctioned sports like football.
The fishing club needed an adult to be in charge, and Dan Borseth agreed to attend a meeting to help get the club started. “Gloria Curtiss, Aitkin High School activities director, and I were the only people there,” commented Borseth. “One day I received an email from the high school stating, ‘Congratulations on being the Aitkin Anglers’ head coach.”’
The anglers got a late start last April and have been unable to enter many tournaments since registrations were due in January. The team has been able to have practice fishing events on area lakes but had not fished in actual competition. The first competition was on the Mississippi River pools four and five, Aug. 9-10.
Crestliner Angling Aces volunteered to sponsor the team, purchasing jerseys for athletes to wear during competition. “Crestliner invited our team to attend a photo shoot on Cass Lake last June,” added Borseth. “They have been an awesome sponsor.” The company also awards scholarships to angling team members who choose to pursue outdoor education beyond high school.
Currently there are 16 members on the Aitkin Anglers fishing team. When a team enters a tournament, two people fish in each boat with one captain, the driver. The captains volunteer their time and pay their own expenses. Minnesota fishing laws apply to team members.
SOME SPECIFIC TOURNAMENT RULES INCLUDE:
Minnesota fishing laws apply.
Anglers fish exclusively for bass.
Live bait is not allowed.
Netting is not allowed.
The captain cannot touch the fish or fishing pole.
When the boat motor is running, anglers and captains must wear a life vest.
It is catch and release; fish are kept in the live well until completion ends. If you have a dead fish in the live well, points are deducted.
AITKIN ANGLERS AT FIRST TOURNAMENT
Eight members of the Aitkin Anglers fishing team attended the state championship tournament which is open to all students in the state, Aug. 10. The tournament was held on the Mississippi River in Red Wing.
Anglers attending included:
Tyler Bill and Carter Schwerin (boat captain Matt Schwerin), who ranked 24th catching three fish, totaling 5 lbs. 8 oz.;
Jacob Espeseth and Daniel Scullard (boat captain Dusty Cartie), ranked 30th, catching two fish, totaling 4 lbs. 2 oz.;
Westin Justen and Nathan Stifter (boat captain David Justen), ranked 32nd, catching one fish weighing 2 lbs. 3 oz.;
Kolbe Sahr and Maggie Borseth (Boat Captain/Coach Dan Borseth) also attended.
Prior to the tournament, boat captain Adam Ziwicki spent time educating the team on fish care, live wells and fishing techniques prior to their first tournament.
The team’s next tournament is on Sunday, Aug. 25, on Lake Bemidji.
There will be a community fish fry and silent auction fundraiser at the Moose Lodge, 22 Fourth St. NE, Aitkin, on Saturday, Sep. 28, from 4:30-7:30 p.m.. Also that evening, any business that would like to be a sponsor on the 2020 fishing jersey will have the first shot at picking their spot on the jersey.