Local fishing club reels in fun for schoolchildren

Charleston Coastal Anglers member Tommy Johnson helps Faith Durinsky corral a bream she caught at the James Island Elementary Fishing Rodeo.

The winning fish weren’t the largest fish ever caught at James Island Elementary School, but the excitement was there for youngsters and grown-ups: the youngsters who chose to fish while attending the school’s Spring Carnival and the members of the Charleston Coastal Anglers fishing club who coordinated the tournament.

“The Charleston Coastal Anglers really stepped up. They bought the bait (crickets), cane poles and they bought plaques for the kids. They brought the people to do the work,” said Pat Harrington, a physical education teacher at James Island Elementary.

“I think those guys really enjoyed the opportunity to be around the kids and see how excited they were. It brings back memories for them. I remember when I was a kid I’d be waiting all week for my uncle to tell me he was taking me fishing. And then I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so excited. That’s how much it meant to me as a kid.”

Harrington said the large retention pond has been a great nature resource for the students. Not only does it hold largemouth bass, bream and turtles, but ospreys, geese, ducks and cormorants, and even the occasional bald eagle pay visits.

Harrington has used the pond as a teaching tool in a program he would love to expand. Since coming to the school, he has incorporated fishing trips as part of the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Systems program. Students earn points for positive behavior and can cash in those points for various things at the school, including a fishing trip with Harrington.

“When I take them, I have a Mitchell 300 reel that’s 65 years old that I let them use. I tell them that before I was even born that reel was catching fish and now you have a chance to catch fish with this reel,” Harrington said.

Harrington said he would like to expand the program to incorporate more sessions that would focus on the scientific aspects of the nature attracted by the pond.