Montello fish fest reels 'em in this weekend

May 2011 News

MONTELLO - There's something fishy going on here.

Youngsters are piling into bass boats with professional anglers.

Monster trucks are crushing pontoon boats.

People who have fished for years, and maybe some who've never cast a line in their lives, are learning how to tie flies, or how to locate fish using state-of-the-art technology.

Welcome to Fish-N-Fun in Montello.

Sandy Wuteska, one of the planners of the festival that started Friday evening and continues today and Sunday, said Fish-N-Fun is a celebration of the opening of the fishing season.

That's why one of the flagship events of Fish-N-Fun is called "kids fishing with the pros."

This year, about a dozen professional anglers (at least one of whom is a woman) have volunteered to take pre-registered children, ages 6 to 14, fishing for one hour on Buffalo Lake. The professionals provide not only the boat, but also the poles, the tackle and the bait.

Daryl Christensen of Montello, who's one of the participating pros, said over his dinner Friday - Lake Michigan whitefish from the Fish-N-Fun opening-night fish boil - that most of the young anglers release whatever they catch. But if they snag a prize catch, it's theirs to keep, or eat or have mounted.

The professional anglers had been scouting Buffalo Lake all day to find the prime spots where fish are biting. In addition to an abundance of bluegills, the lake contains "tons and tons and tons" of perch. And wherever there are perch in abundance, northern pike are almost certain to abound, too, he said.

The boat ride, Christensen said, is almost as much of a highlight for the young anglers as fishing.

"We might let the older kids drive the boat," he said. "The little kids, we let them sit on laps and pretend they're driving."

The lake will be available to any adult (with a valid fishing license, of course) to try their luck on opening day.

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