Fishing for beginners: The Minnesota DNR's 'I Can' series

  • Article by: KATY READ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2014 - 6:10 PM

With its popular "I Can" series, the Minnesota DNR offers relaxed, low-pressure lessons on the essentials of outdoor recreation.

hide

Alvin Bommarito and his grandfather waited, with varying degrees of patience, for a bite.

 

Peering from the dock into the weedy depths of Snelling Lake, Alvin Bommarito spotted a fish hovering near the end of his line, appearing to ogle its enticing knot of worm.

“It’s got an eye on mine,” 4-year-old Alvin announced loudly. “Fishy fish, fishy fish fish!”

“One thing about being a fisherman is you’ve got to be patient,” advised Alvin’s grandfather Joe Bommarito, visiting Alvin in Minneapolis from Snohomish, Wash. He stood nearby with his own fishing pole. “Just sit there and wait it out.”

Alvin waited quietly for about 20 seconds.

“I wonder when the fish will get mine,” he said. “When will the fish come, I wonder?”

“I don’t know, you’ve got to be patient,” his grandfather said again. “It’s hard being patient sometimes, isn’t it?”

Ten seconds ticked by.

“Fish, where are you?” Alvin called toward the water.

The fish were biting only occasionally on that sunny afternoon at Fort Snelling State Park, but it was a good day for intergenerational bonding. Alvin and his family, also including his parents and grandmother, were among about 20 people participating in “I Can Fish,” a program held at the park every Friday afternoon throughout the summer.

“I Can Fish” is for anyone who wants to learn to fish, or could use a refresher, or just wants to get outdoors and try something new. The Department of Natural Resources, which sponsors the free program, provides poles, bait and instructions on how to use them. No fishing license is required to fish from the shore within the park.

“It’s been really, really popular,” said naturalist Kao Thao, who helps participants tie worms onto hooks, identify fish species and remove fish from lines once they’re caught.

Lessons on outdoor leisure

“I Can Fish” is part of the DNR’s “I Can” series, designed to lure more people outdoors to enjoy nature, said Erika Rivers, DNR Parks and Trails director. Set in state parks across the state, other programs focus on camping, paddling, archery and climbing. The programs are available free or for a nominal fee, and provide most or all of the equipment required.

“The thing we hope most for this program is that it creates a really easy, friendly first-time experience for people to get outdoors,” Rivers said.

The DNR designed the series several years ago after noticing a decline in outdoor recreation, Rivers said. Although the numbers have slightly improved since 2008, thanks to the recession (more people are vacationing close to home), the DNR wanted to address the obstacles that were keeping people from venturing into the parks.

“One was basic know-how; a lot of people had not grown up camping or hiking,” Rivers said. “The second was equipment. People wanted to give things a try, but they didn’t have a tent, a cook stove, that sort of thing. The third was basic lack of confidence: ‘I’m not exactly sure how to start a fire and I’m going to be there with my family, my kids maybe, and I don’t want to look dumb.’ ”

Fort Snelling’s “I Can Fish” sessions sometimes draw up to 100 participants, a diverse group from around the metro area that includes families, as well as adults without children. A few parents have come on their own to learn, hoping to impress their kids later with their fishing skills, Thao said. Others aren’t really intent on mastering the angling arts but happen to be visiting the park and decide to give it a try.

  • related content

  • 'I Can' learn more

    Thursday July 10, 2014

    WHAT: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s statewide “I Can” series – including I Can Fish, I Can Camp, I...

  • A touring cyclist's adventure in Hennepin County

    Thursday July 10, 2014

    Inspired by the touring cyclists of Europe, a Twin Cities woman took her 10-year-old niece on an overnight adventure in...

  • Cabin Country: My Canadian time capsule

    Friday July 11, 2014

    I am a native of Chicago but my Minneapolis roots run deep.

  • Alvin Bommarito, 4, of Minneapolis, tried to get a glimpse as grandfather Jim Bommarito, of Snohomish, Wash., cast a line into Snelling Lake on a recent Friday afternoon.

  • This couple was pretty excited to catch a pumpkinseed sunfish during the weekly “I Can Fish” program. The pair, students at the University of Minnesota, were fishing for the first time.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 89 4th Qtr 7:54
LA Lakers 70
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close