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Hooked on Maine offers students chance to learn to fish

It doesn't get much more Maine than a field trip to a brook. These students learned how to catch a fish, and even got a free fishing pole.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis Community Elementary School fourth-graders learned how to catch fish Thursday, and organizers of the event in Dover-Foxcroft hoped the field trip taught them even more.

Friends of Community Fitness in Guilford sponsored a Hooked on Maine Outdoors field trip to give Piscataquis Community Elementary School fourth-graders fishing lessons and get them outside.

“We’ve been cooped up all year long, and we’ve been looking forward to this day, and the kids are having a ball," fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Beth Weymouth said.

“(I’m) learning to be patient with the fish and how to take them off of the hook," Bailey said.

"Not to cast too far or it’ll get stuck," Peyton learned.

“Not to just cast it and reel it in really, really fast, because then the fish won’t be able to bite it,” Nick said.

Friends of Community Fitness hosts several events throughout the year to encourage kids and the community to stay active and get outside.

“I would much rather see them fishing than sitting at home playing these funny games," organizer Rocco Palumbo said. "They get out here in the wild and they are catching fish and seeing the wildlife."

Palumbo has been setting up events like these for over 30 years. Thursday marked the first time the Piscataquis Community Elementary School fourth-graders could take part since before the pandemic.

Palumbo paid a visit to the elementary school the day before the field trip to let the kids practice casting with a fishing pole.

On Thursday, the students took a bus to Dunham Brook, where they picked out their fishing poles to catch brook trout.

One student, Allison, had the most luck. By the end of the day, she had caught more than 10 fish.

“I don’t really like bragging, but if people ask me, I’ll tell the truth," she said.

On top of free lessons, all the students got to keep the fishing poles they learned with, which was a surprise to the kids.

“Some of them don’t have fishing poles and so this will be a great way for them to learn how to fish and how to continue this sport of fishing," Weymouth said.

Peyton said she'll continue fishing over the summer. She struggled a bit reeling in her first catch Thursday but had a smile wide enough to prove the fight with the trout was worth it.

"It was scary because the rod almost fell out of my hand," she said, adding that it was "really, really, really cool."

Once the field trip was over, the young fishermen and fisherwomen could bring their catches home and gift their family with a meal they caught themselves.

“They are going to be talking about this fishing trip for a long time," Weymouth said.

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