Lakewood Ranch’s Edison Gassenhofer and his sister, Eleanor, listened carefully as Bob LaVopa demonstrated how to cast his fishing line.
Edison Gassenhofer, who is 6, then took the rod from LaVopa, a member of the Lakewood Ranch Angler’s Club, and tried casting for the first time.
For Edison Gassenhofer and Eleanor Gassenhofer, who is 8, the Lakewood Ranch Angler’s Club youth fishing seminar at Summerfield Community Park on March 18, was their first time holding a fishing rod.
After a few more attempts, both Edison and Eleanor Gassenhofer were getting acclimated to casting.
Their parents, Danielle and Markus Gassenhofer, paid attention to the advice from LaVopa and the tips and tricks other Angler’s Club members provided on lures, knot tying and how to be a good angler.
Markus Gassenhofer said his children loved learning the basics of fishing.
More than 80 children attended the two sessions of the youth fishing seminar March 18, completing four 15-minute stations. With all four stations complete, they received a fishing rod and supplies from Fish Florida.
Jeannette Wirz, the president of the Angler’s Club, said when a child receives the free rod and supplies, it’s like Christmas morning.
“The face lights up,” Wirz said. “Sometimes they go right back to the lake to start fishing again.”
While Ed Van Stedum, a member of the Angler’s Club, showed participants various lures, he explained how they attract fish and told them to rotate the different lures they use.
“You don’t eat pizza every day or chicken every day, do you?” he said. “Well, fish don’t eat the same thing every day either, so you want to use different lures and bait.”
Although parents were able to help their children during the seminar, Wirz said they will not be allowed to assist during the Lakewood Ranch Angler’s Club Youth Fishing Tournament March 25.
During the fishing tournament, Nancy Frederick, the secretary of the Angler's Club, said she has to remind children who don’t catch a fish about an important lesson about fishing.
“It’s called fishing, not catching,” she said.
Seeing someone catch a fish is always a favorite moment of the tournament for Wirz.
“I love seeing the look on their faces,” she said. “It’s so joyful and pure. It’s genuine happiness.”