Reeling It In


Connor Blaney (12) at Dunkirk Dam holding a newly-caught large mouth bass. Photo from Connor Blaney.

Rachel Callahan, Features & Cover Story Editor

When you think of a sport that involves both mental and physical strength, what do you think of? Sports that come to mind include maybe tennis, soccer, or football. Fishing involves both of these aspects. 

For local high school fishermen, Markus Girling and Connor Blaney, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and plenty of room on the boat for new fishers. Outside of SHS, these athletes spend their time fishing. Senior Connor Blaney started fishing at five years old. 

“My first time fishing was when my family and I all went on a camping trip to Devil’s Lake and we used our little button reels with a bobber and a worm and pulled up bluegill,” Blaney says.

Ever since then, Blaney has enjoyed fishing for the relaxing aspect as well as the fun.  

“I wouldn’t say that you have to motivate yourself to fish. It is kind of just a laid back thing you do when you have free time,” Blaney says.

Although some may think fishing is just throwing some bait in the water and waiting for a fish to come, it’s a little more complex than that. 

“Fishing isn’t super easy to be good at. I can catch fish at a normal pace, but some people, like pro bass anglers, are extremely talented and wise when it comes to catching different and more species,” Blaney says. 

However, some fishing trips don’t always turn out as expected. 

“The worst fishing experience I ever had was when I went up north with some of my buddies for a week and caught five fish while they were all in their thirties and forties for the number they caught,” Blaney says. 

Beginners can become easily frustrated, but practice makes perfect, and so do tips from pro-fisherman. 

Blaney thinks the best spots for fishing are by the dog park and out at Dunkirk Dam. “Know what kind of water you’re fishing in, and what bait you’re using,” Blaney says.

Another senior, Girling, spends his free time fishing as well. 

“I started fishing when I was really young. I have been fishing with my dad and grandpa for as long as I can remember. My first time fishing was slow at first, but then I remember catching drums on Lake Winnebago with my grandpa, dad, and uncle,” Girling says.

Fishing is a popular hobby that you can pick up at either a young age or as an adult. More years of experience helps find the best spots for practicing, but fishing can take place on any body of water. Girling enjoys fishing at his cabin on the Fox river. 

Markus Girling (12) smiles at yet another good catch. Photo from Markus Girling.

As every sport comes with its own challenges and rewards, so does fishing. 

“The worst fishing experience I have had was when me and my dad left the boat out on the water and it started pouring. My dad jumped [out of] the boat [and] rushed it over to the boat ramp. As he brought the boat to the ramp, lightning hit the water, but he had jumped out onto the ground before the strike. Hail and very cold rain was falling and we ended up destroying the propeller getting the boat out of the water,” Girling says.

In order for mistakes like these to not happen, these advanced fishermen provide more insight into taking precaution when going out on the water.

Girling offers more tips for beginner fishers who want to become as talented as these athletes. 

“My tips for anyone trying to start out is to be prepared to have tons of tackle and be prepared to spend a ton and continuously play around with it,” Girling says.

So what should new fishermen know or be aware of? These fishermen come prepared with knowledge.

“Know what kind of water you’re fishing in, and what bait you’re using,” Blaney says.

For those looking for a new hoppy, there are a few things they should know when first starting out.  

“Don’t get frustrated and quit, just tie on a new bait until they start biting it. I think the most important thing about fishing is just to have fun with it. If you’re not having a good time, then you probably aren’t doing it right,” Blaney says.