CHS hopes students get hooked on new outdoor class

A new Fishing/Outdoorsman class introduced this year at Calhoun High School is trading textbooks for bait, pencils for reels and computer screens for compasses in order to take students from brick buildings into the great outdoors.

The course, which was created and is taught by Randy Rice, aims to make a splash by providing CHS students who have a passion for fishing an avenue to sharpen their angling skills and learn new ones.

“Some of these kids are avid about fishing and don’t play other sports, so fishing is their pastime and their love” Rice said. “I thought I would just try and put that in the classroom and hone their skills.”

A typical day of class involves teaching fishing basics like tying more effective knots on fishing lines, navigating lakes using topographical maps and using baitcaster reels the correct way.

“I remember when I used to go fishing, I would reel my line up thinking I had a whale, but it would break off and the end of the line was just curly,” Rice said. “That’s why it’s important for them to know things like how to tie strong knots.”

Rice strives to make the class as hands-on for the students as possible, allowing students to take turns sharing fishing tips and demonstrating what outdoor knowledge they have gathered.

Due to certain rules and limitations, there are a few obstacles to get past before Fishing/Outdoorsman students could actually get out on the water on a boat or even fish from the shore. So the primary focus of the course remains preparing students to adequately fish on their own.

Rice plans on bringing in professional anglers as guest speakers to share their expertise, and even plans on organizing field trips to allow students to utilize new skills outside on dry land.

However, as the program continues to grow, he believes there might be opportunities in the future for the course to feature chances for students to bait a few hooks and cast a few lines around local bodies of water.

“I’m the process of reaching out to people and I’m always searching around here for volunteers to try and maybe set that up in the future,” Rice said. “Hopefully, we can at least get to some of the close-by lakes eventually.”

The future possibility of traveling to a lake or pond also provides the opportunity to learn more about a variety of fish and their behaviors in certain environments.

“I don’t want them to know just that they can catch a fish there, I want them to learn why a fish is there and how’s the best way they can catch it,” Rice said.

One of the biggest reasons the class was established is to support and promote the Calhoun High School Bass Fishing team, which Rice also coaches.

Anglers on the team have the opportunity to test their skills on the water and enter tournaments against the other 14 high school squads in the Northwest Georgia High School Anglers Association, which also includes Sonoraville High School.

Calhoun currently deploys seven boats, which allows 14 fishermen to compete. Those fishermen have already accrued a solid amount of success in the short time they have been together, securing multiple top-10 finishes in tournaments last season.

“The kids on the team did really well last year,” Rice said. “The sky’s the limit and we are really excited about the future.”

Speaking of the future, the Fishing/Outdoorsman class and Calhoun Bass Fishing Team are working hand-in-hand in providing a subject that is unconventional, but very useful to study. The entire program allows students to participate in one of the fastest growing sports, especially at the collegiate level.

“Colleges are really starting to put scholarships out there for the sport,” Rice said. “It would be a great way to go to college, wouldn’t it?”

Rice hopes that his class and his team can open new doors for students and form a fruitful partnership with one another while working for a common purpose.

“I think the biggest goal with education now and this program is to get outside the four walls of the school,” Rice said. “We are just trying to get them out there and let them live life and see how it goes.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Northwest Georgia High School Anglers Association or local high school bass fishing programs, check out www.NWGHSAA.com.

Calhoun’s Bass Fishing Team is always looking for mentors and volunteers to help with the students, so if you’re interested in helping or contributing to program contact Coach Rice at 770-548-1540 or ricer@calhounschools.org