Oak Creek For Soroco physical education teacher David Bruner, taking a group of teenagers fishing is about more than just making a great catch and getting out of school.
It's about developing the skills to become a lifelong fisherman.
"Fishing has sort of become a lost sport," he said Thursday. "It's one of those lifetime sports that I'm really into supporting. I want to teach the kids that once you learn it, fishing is something you can do until the day you die."
Bruner, who implemented a fishing program at Soroco Middle School and Soroco High School last year, received a boost this month when he found out he had been awarded a $3,500 Future Fisherman's Foundation Physical Education grant to purchase equipment to enhance the fledgling program.
Like a kid in a candy store, Bruner has hit the ground running and already has purchased 12 fly rods and reels, 30 spin casting rods and reels, 10 tackle boxes with all the fixin's, and three outdoor safety kits. The school's next fishing unit begins Monday, he said.
"We were one of 94 schools across the nation that got the grant," he said. "I'm super excited we got it because it's quite a bit of money to spend. We've been able to get just about everything you could want."
Bruner said he intends to teach all his students, from seventh to 12th grade, the basics of fly, spin cast and ice fishing as well as the aquatic ecology of the area. The grant has allowed the school to outfit 42 students with equipment. That's a vast improvement from last year when the students were forced to share equipment, Bruner said.
"I really think the kids love it because they get to be outside and enjoy the outdoors after being stuck in a classroom all day," he said. "It's a great place we live."
Fishing also gives students who don't like traditional sports the opportunity to try something different, he said.
"Maybe there are kids that don't like volleyball, or football or basketball," he said. "Maybe this is something else they can enjoy. I try to expose them to a much as I can. "
Bruner's students fish at Stagecoach Reservoir and on private land in Phippsburg, he said.
Implementing a fishing program was an important part of enhancing the school's physical education program, which includes a unique curriculum of disc golf, mountain biking, golfing, skiing, lacrosse, shuffleboard and badminton.
"We've got one of the best programs in the state," he said.