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Fishing around for a way to support the community

The catch of the day was fun as participants from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region cast their lines at Lyndon Fish Hatcheries in Petersburg on Saturday.

There, some 40 people – Bigs and Littles – learned about the lifecycle of a rainbow trout and aquaculture in Canada. In the hands-on component, they learned to fish, clean the catch and how to prepare a fresh rainbow trout, courtesy of  Justin Bronson, a sous chef at Google Kitchener.

The event took shape when Lyndon approached the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region about how they could use their facility to give back to the community. The pond, which is continually stocked with fresh fish, holds on average of 1,000 rainbow trout from their breeding program.

“As a fishing place, we understand fishing can be very therapeutic. But it is also an interactional activity, so that is where we wanted to see how can we support charities, support our community, and that is where this jumped in,” explained Clarke Rieck, president of Lyndon Fish Hatcheries.

Marilyn Price, general manager for Lyndon, reached out to Mallory Boyer, resource development manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region (BBBS) after hearing about different fish ponds doing partnerships with community groups – BBBS had come to mind, with a day of free fishing being an ideal activity for the kids and adults alike.

“We really do count on the community to provide lots of fun opportunities for our Bigs and our Littles,” said Boyer. “It’s always great for us to find activities to help the kids learn life skills as well and from there it really just grew, Lyndon Fish Hatcheries is just amazing and the opportunity they provided to us.”

William Schmidt and his Big Brother Norbert Lütkenhaus net a big catch at the Big Brother Big Sisters fishing event at Lyndon Fish Hatcheries. [Ali Wilson / The Observer]

Seasoned fisherman William Schmidt, 13, caught the first fish of the day … without a worm. This being his first time visiting the pond, he was excited to try his skills at a new venue.

Schmidt is a fan of fishing for the pure technique involved to be successful at the sport.

“Just the skill that is involved where you don’t need fancy stuff to catch fish, it is just its all about technique,” he said.

Norbert Lütkenhaus, has been Schmidt’s big brother for six years. He received notice of the event and knew it would be something William would enjoy. Although the Little is an experienced fisherman, Lütkenhaus admits that he has never caught a fish and that the event was a great learning opportunity for him.

“It is great experience, I mean the thing is I would be happy to start fishing but I have no idea about it so it helps me as well to figure out the technique,” said Lütkenhaus. “He is the professional at it as you can see he doesn’t even need a worm to catch the fish, but especially for me it is important to see once you have a fish what to do with it and because to be honest if I catch a fish I want to eat it but then I need to know how to go about it.”

This is the first time that Lyndon has done the event, but put forward the idea for BBBS to make it an annual outing. Boyer said they were thrilled to hear the news from Price.

“We were really excited when Marilyn said that she and Clarke wanted to make it an annual event. I think that it is a great partnership and something we are definitely looking forward to doing. All of the kids loved it they had such a great time and when they found out that it is going to be happening again next year they were super excited so I think it is amazing,” said Boyer.

BBBS of Waterloo Region facilitates relationships that inspire and empower children and youth ages six to sixteen  to reach their potential through mentorship. They currently have over 300 children on their waitlist who are looking to join programs.

“We are always looking for volunteers,” said Boyer. “It is just a really great opportunity for you to be a kid again. Going fishing with them is a fun day outside in the sun; it’s probably something you wouldn’t regularly do. Mentoring isn’t this big scary thing, it is really just about spending quality time together in the community and taking part in lots of fun activities and opportunities.”

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