For many years, angler and instructor Ernie Shores has taught students about fishing and how important it is to take care of our ecosystem for future generations.
"The waterways are very important where these trout go as far as the quality and the habitat and so on," Shores said. "To get a fishing pole in their hands is extremely important to me. To watch their eyes light up in the excitement of what they are doing is important to me.
"A lot of these young guys that I started with are now in their mid-30s and I run into them all the time. And they still send me pictures of their big fish."
As part of that project, Shores works with local hatcheries and area students to plant trout in local streams and rivers ahead of the fishing opener in Wisconsin.
"I've been doing this for quite a few years. I had done a reach out program in the past that focused on keeping youth involved," Shores said. "...I felt there wasn't an opportunity for the youth to really see what was going on and the work that is involved to maintain these streams, as well as the efforts of keeping the fishery booming."
Shores recently accompanied members of the New Richmond High School Fishing Team on a pair of trout planting exhibitions as a collaboration with team coach Jeff Albarado. The trout planting is sponsored through the Wisconsin DNR and paid for through the purchase of trout stamps.
"It is a real opportunity to see your money at work. It has been going on for over 30 years," Shores said. "A lot of people that I have to give a lot of credit to in assisting me with this project in the past are the Mike Reiters and Mike Kellys....as well as the Willow River Rod and Gun Club, the Star Prairie Fish and Game. They are great clubs, and people, and are more than happy to reach out and help people, including myself."
Shores works with two hatcheries out of Osceola and St. Croix Falls. The hatchery in Osceola raises rainbow trout and St. Croix Falls raises brown and brook trout. According to Shores, the students planted 1,800 rainbow and 1,800 brown trout in the New Richmond area and on the Willow River.
"It is great for these kids to get experience with different jobs and see what type of careers are out there other than the ones they always see," said Albarado. "It is also a way for us to come full circle and understand the pressures we put on our natural resources when we go fishing and hunting. If we didn't have this kind of support from people and organizations we wouldn't have the resources we are used to having and take for granted."
According to Shores, the trout he and the NRHS Fishing Team members planted were anywhere from 7-14 inches long and were about 18 months old. The fish at the hatchery are fed on a daily basis, which helps to expedite their growth.
"It is very important that when they transfer these trout from the hatchery to the river that there is not a large variance in water temperature, because the shock of that and the strain from the handling is a lot for the fish," Shores said. "We do this every year and are fortunate to do it every year. Our quantities of fish are always changing. These hatcheries are supporting a large area of Wisconsin, so you have to give them credit for their work. They put a lot of work into what they do and we are very appreciative that this program has continued on for so many years."
Albarado also said he is looking for people to help out with the fishing team, in particular volunteers to help with the club's mentor program which matches students with fishermen to get them out on the water more often, especially when they don't have anyone else with which to fish.
"The No. 1 reason to not go fishing is because you don't have anyone to go fishing with," Albarado said. "It is a lot of work for some of the older fishermen to get everything together to go fishing, but the kids are excited to go and would be more than happy to help get everything ready for a fishing trip."
The fishing team has four contests this summer and is looking for volunteers who have boats and are willing to fish with a NRHS team member on a Saturday.