BERLIN- Under the direction of a man who knows a little something about catching a very important fish, the fledgling Stephen Decatur Fishing Club is up and running with several competitions, classes and other events set for this summer.
Formed this spring by Decatur teacher and last year’s White Marlin Open winner Tom Hinkle, along with two other faculty members Todd Martinek and Jason Pylypczuk, the new Stephen Decatur Fishing Club is providing an outlet for students who have grown up around the water to expand on their love of fishing while exposing other students who otherwise might not have the access or the means to the sport. Thus far, about 30 Decatur students, including boys and girls, have joined the club and are already enjoying everything it has to offer.
Hinkle said the idea of forming the fishing club at the Berlin high school came from an angler in Delaware who has set up similar clubs in high schools in that state. Similar clubs in coastal Delaware schools compete against each other in amateur bass competitions each year and the new club at Decatur hopes to become a part of that in the near future. For now, the new Stephen Decatur Fishing Club has already gotten off to a good start with an eye on future expansion.
Earlier this month, the club held a bass fishing competition at the South Gate Pond in Ocean Pines and the top two finishers have qualified for a large amateur bass tournament. Club members have also participated in classes aimed at getting their boating licenses. Hosted by the Ocean Pines Power Squadron, the classes were held in four classroom sessions after school. A third early event for the new fishing club is the “Pitch, Flip and Cast” contest wherein club members test their casting skills with the top finishers winning fishing rods and other tackle.
Any club member who participates in at least two of the club’s sanctioned events will get a chance to get offshore next month on the “Judith M” under the direction of Captain Mark Sampson, for a little bass fishing on the offshore reefs and maybe a chance for some shark fishing. During all club-sanctioned events, team members are being taught the importance of conservation of the abundant resources of the area including the concept of catch and release.
“We have an opportunity to expose young anglers to the sport while teaching them the importance of conserving what we have here, both fresh water and saltwater,” said Hinkle. “These kids are the next generation of local anglers and they are being taught the importance of enjoying the sport in an environmentally conscious way.”