At the Morris YMCA fishing camp Thursday, 11-year-old Trent Sandeno of Coal City caught a largemouth bass and proudly showed it off before releasing the fish back into the water.
“It was fighting a lot,” said Sandeno.
He is one of about 24 kids — ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade — who signed up for the fishing camp. Thursday was the second day of the four-day camp, said Ken Iverson, Morris YMCA program director.
Thursday the kids fished at Chaminwood Forest Preserve in Channahon. Wednesday the kids started camp by fishing at William G. Stratton State Park in Morris. Friday they planned to fish in one of the local strip mines and Saturday at Wooded Lake in Morris, said Iverson.
“Some of the things we try to accomplish for the younger kids is just getting them to catch a fish,” said Steve Rogers, fishing camp instructor. “With the older kids, we are working on different techniques and more advanced stuff.”
There are about 200 kids signed up for about a dozen camps in the Morris area, said Iverson. For the camps starting in the next couple of weeks, such as volleyball and baseball, people can still sign up.
“I think we are going to expand (the camps) next year because they have been very, very successful,” he said.
The Greater Joliet Area YMCA is currently working to build a YMCA campus within the next five years in Morris. This summer, it kicked off numerous camp programs run by local volunteers and is currently working on a temporary location for an office in Morris.
On Wednesday, the fishing camp kids caught some little bluegills, said Rogers. So far they have been fishing from the shore, but they will also fish off pontoon boats.
Iverson quoted the known fishing quote describing what Rogers is doing for the children: “Give me a fish and I’ll eat today, teach me to fish and I’ll eat for life.”
The kids are learning about casting, tying a hook, different lures, and how to find fish, among other techniques.
To illustrate how to find where the fish might be, the kids started out with a game called “Predator Prey,” said Rogers. The kids pretend their entire world is under water and they are told to find a hiding place to escape predators. All of the kids run behind trees or into dark areas, just like fish do.
“It helps the kids realize where they should try to fish,” he said.
Wednesday, Joey Muscato, 7, of Morris, caught a bass at Stratton Park. He needed a little help reeling it in because it was his first big catch.
“I could see it go in and out. It came up and down,” said Muscato.
“We put it back in, but you gotta take a picture,” he continued.
Anna Bibly, 6, of Morris, was the only girl at camp Thursday and had the most patience staying at her chosen spot near the shore.
“I love fishing with my dad, but he caught nothing the first time I went. But I caught a bluegill,” she said with pride.
For more information or to register for Morris YMCA camps, visit www.jolietymca.org or call (815) 744-3939.