Fishing Club’s Future


Photo Provided by Justin Lewis

Some members of the fishing club along with their sponsor, Justin Lewis, sitting on their boat.

Parker Anderson, Staff Writer

The fishing club has been a large part of the school since they bought their big team boat last year. As their club sponsor, math teacher Justin Lewis, is leaving next year, everyone is left with same question: What is happening to the fishing club?

Fishing club was approved in February of 2017 with eight students who wanted to learn about fishing and the industry behind it, along with competing against others as a sport. This year, the club had about 80 students who wanted to be apart of the fishing club.

The club itself was created to let students try something unique that is not well represented throughout Iowa. “The purpose of the club was to provide education opportunities in general fishing knowledge, conservation efforts, land and water management, entrepreneurship, and competition,” club sponsor and math teacher Justin Lewis said. “It was a place for students interested in becoming better anglers, improving their skills, and pursuing options after high school to meet. For a number of the members, this was their best connection to the high school, as not all of them participated in typical sports or activities.”

Last year, the club got a boat to use out at their tournaments. They bought the boat with money they earned through fundraising and support from the Booster Club. “The boat offered access to our angles to appear to every tournament and rotate through angler that fished off it,” Lewis said. “It also allowed them to learn about boats in general, boat maintenance, safety features, and much much more. The boat made a great impact on the anglers and what they were trying to achieve at the time.”

The club meets every two weeks to discuss skills. They do not have official practices but the day prior to the tournament, the club goes out to the destination and figure out the best spots and running through a mock tournament. “There is a ton of learning involved that most simply don’t understand,” Lewis said. “Everything from studying maps, weather conditions, lake conditions, time of year, feeding schedules and feed sources, and again much, much more.”

Without a club sponsor next year, there is a lot of question to whether or not the club will still be here. “The club could continue, however it does not look overly promising at the moment,” Lewis said. “A new sponsor will need to be located, but it is not like sponsoring other clubs. It has to be a passion and something someone is willing to do 100% or it simply will not work. It is a lot of personal time and travel. Unfortunately, I don’t know that we have that person arranged for these anglers to continue through the High School. I also don’t know that the HS or district is overly engaged in keeping it a viable option, though they will say this is entirely on the students since it is a club. I believe the anglers will have to look to outside organizations to pursue their passions in this.”

The students may try to get a new advisor for the club, but it is not certain. “I would love to see this stay in high schools, in fact I have spoken to a number of other high schools trying to get a program started,” Lewis said. “I have told them of our success, but also the struggles in actually getting this off the ground and supported. I think opportunities like this are extremely important to portions of our student body to show others that there are other options for students that don’t want to just throw a ball or sing or dance. A number of southern states now have competitive bass fishing as an official HS sport. It is possible for this to succeed, but we have to have people in charge that want to see it succeed as well.”

The students who are apart of the fishing club might not have their outlet here at the high school, but Lewis and his wife have started a non-profit organization serving central Iowa youth anglers. “This has been a huge process, but we, our board members, and a number of substantial supporting companies believe in the mission and the benefit these opportunities provide our community youth, so if it takes us creating a new organization for this to be successful, then so be it,” Lewis said. “We do not want these anglers, our  ‘JHS Fishing Family’, to be left stranded without these opportunities to learn, grow, and pursue their passion. Therefore, we decided that if the program was not going to be as successful as it could have been through the HS and district, that we would simply start another one that we control and make the decisions for. Our new organization is called the Iowa Youth Fishing League.”

For more information on the Iowa Youth Fishing League<Iowa Youth Fishing League Information.