Broadalbin-Perth science teacher Brian Henry and social worker Mick Gottung both grew up in nearby Gloversville, where they both said their love of fishing started at the age of four or five. They credit their parents, extended family, friends, and community members for exposing them to fishing and instilling in them a true passion for the sport.
Now as adults, Henry and Gottung see their roles as co-advisors of Broadalbin-Perth’s Fishing Club as a chance to “pay it forward” and give students the opportunity to experience the thrill of fishing in hopes that it will become a lifelong hobby for them as well. Henry and Gottung launched B-P’s Fishing Club in 2016. Heading into the fall, the group is thriving with about 25 co-ed student members.
“Fishing Club has filled an important gap for B-P’s student community,” Henry said. “It provides a different kind of social outlet for kids who might not be engaged in traditional sports and, personally, it’s allowed me to meet a variety of different students whom I wouldn’t normally cross paths with in the classroom or in my role as a soccer coach.”
“There’s a very natural camaraderie that happens when we’re all out on the boat,” Gottung added. “We have students of all different skill levels, and it’s been really nice to see some of our more experienced students teaching the first-timers.”
Most of the club’s excursions happen aboard the Patriot I, a 21-foot pontoon boat owned and operated by the B-P school district, which was partially paid for with grant funding and private donations. The multifunctional boat was purchased in 2018 and is used for both the Fishing Club and as a floating classroom for high school science research classes.
The B-P campus is located at the southern end of the Great Sacandaga Lake (GSL) and is surrounded by hundreds of lakes within a 50-mile radius. The Patriot I allows the research classes and Fishing Club easy access to some of New York state’s most popular boating destinations, including the GSL, Lake George, Saratoga Lake, and the nearby Caroga, Pleasant, and Peck lakes.
B-P’s Fishing Club is active year-round, with Gottung noting that the spring season is the busiest because that’s “when the lakes come alive.” The group added ice fishing to its annual schedule in 2017.
Traditionally, the club holds a fish fry at the end of each school year as a fundraiser. The event was put on hold this past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Henry and Gottung say they’re looking forward to bringing the tradition back for the 2021-22 school year.
Henry says students who participate in the Fishing Club are learning much more than just how to fish. “Not only are the students learning a lifelong hobby, they’re also learning important lessons about boating safety and maintenance, environmental conservation, how to navigate open water, and read buoys and markers,” he said. “Fishing is just the conduit.”