David Lorring, left, helps Moriah Hodges, right, reel in her fish at Sport Lake in Soldotna as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

David Lorring, left, helps Moriah Hodges, right, reel in her fish at Sport Lake in Soldotna as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Fish on!’

Kids cast lines and learn at ice fishing event

Elementary students in full snow gear scuttled out onto Sport Lake in Soldotna on Wednesday to try their luck at catching salmon.

Part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program, the event gave elementary students from different district schools the opportunity to learn about aquatic life.

Lucas Stumpf, a fishery biologist with the Division of Sport Fish, said kids often remember hands-on educational experiences like the ice fishing program.

“I remember in second grade when somebody came to my classroom and did a salmon dissection,” he said. “I think it’s incredibly important for aquatic education, especially at a young age.”

Stumpf said he now leads salmon dissections in classrooms across the central peninsula.

Out on the lake Wednesday was Don Drury’s third grade classroom from Aurora Borealis Charter School. After a presentation about the aquatic life in the lake and safety instructions, the kids helped themselves to a pole and cast their baited lines into tiny ice fishing holes.

Students were taught ethical angling practices and how to use ice fishing gear, according to a press release about the event.

Drury has been participating in the “Salmon in the Classroom” event for at least a decade, he said.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said Wednesday. “This is a fun thing that they can do to get out. … A lot of these kids have never been ice fishing before.”

Learning outside also translates to learning in the classroom, Drury said.

“We have salmon eggs in the classroom that we watch hatch and we go through the life cycle of that,” he said. “And then the biologist comes in (and) they do a dissection, so they learn about habitat, fish parts and stuff like that.”

Volunteers from the Alaska State Wildlife Troopers and the Kenai Watershed Forum, as well as some parent and guardian volunteers, helped the kids fish Wednesday.

The third graders could be heard yelling “Fish on!” and laughing while they jigged their rods at the bottom of the lake.

This was Stumpf’s first time leading the “Salmon in the Classroom” program, and he said he enjoyed the event.

“This kind of helps foster, maybe, a little bit of excitement or passion or something for an outdoor sport,” he said.

The third and final session of the event will take place at the Homer Reservoir from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Thursday.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District elementary students ice fish at Sport Lake in Soldotna as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District elementary students ice fish at Sport Lake in Soldotna as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Lucas Stumpf, a fishery biologist with the Division of Sport Fish, helps Aurora Borealis Charter School third grader Teagan Jorgensen, left, with her line while she ice fishes at Sport Lake in Soldotna as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Lucas Stumpf, a fishery biologist with the Division of Sport Fish, helps Aurora Borealis Charter School third grader Teagan Jorgensen, left, with her line while she ice fishes at Sport Lake in Soldotna as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Aurora Borealis Charter School third grader Moriah Hodges poses with her catch of the day while ice fishing at Sport Lake as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Aurora Borealis Charter School third grader Moriah Hodges poses with her catch of the day while ice fishing at Sport Lake as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s “Salmon in the Classroom” ice fishing educational program on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Soldotna. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

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