By Robert Lucke
In May area-third graders went out angling and found out just how hooked on fishing they really are.
According to area fish biologist, Kent Gilge, every third-grade class in Havre participates in a program entitled "Hooked on Fishing, not Drugs."
"Montana FWP supplies poles and preliminary classroom instruction, as well as some field instruction, including fish identification, knot tying and casting techniques," Gilge said.
Third-graders are surprisingly good fishermen.
Not only that, but woe be onto any third-grade teacher who doesn't sign his or her class up for the program.
"Every third-grade class in Havre is involved in the program," Gilge continued. "I think that any teacher who wasn't in it would be in big trouble with the students."
On May 18, Judy Jones' third-grade class headed out to a windy Beaver Creek Reservoir to see what they could do.
"Those kids caught 30 perch in a little over an hour and cooked and ate them as fast as they caught them," Gilge related, laughing.
May 24 was an even more windy and blustery day over at H.C. Kuhr Reservoir in Blaine County.
"Tammy Brough, the teacher at the Cleveland School, along with her six students caught 18 rainbow trout at H.C. Kuhr in a little more than an hour in 25 mph winds," Gilge said.
This is the beginning of the fifth year of "Hooked on Fishing" in the Havre schools. The program includes a yearly stint of ice fishing as well.
"In most towns the program is for fifth-graders," Gilge related. "In Havre, Susie Morse was the first teacher to really pick up on our program and she just happened to be teaching third-graders."
Gilge is sold on third-graders.
"Third grade classes can become very proficient in fishing," he said. "I am amazed."
In other areas of north-central Montana, Gilge and FWP work with 4H clubs and schools with this program.
Interested in having your school, group or class involved in "Hooked on Fishing, not Drugs?" Contact Gilge at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks office at 265-6177.