MANISTEE, Mich. — The local chapter of TU Teens recently took a trip to the Manistee River in the northwest corner of the lower peninsula of Michigan in search of trout.
Eight teens and five adults traveled north on Saturday loaded up with fishing poles and five days worth of gear ready to spend time in the Manistee River and enjoy the scenery and nature of Northern Michigan.
Shannon Mayes, teacher at Gallia Middle School and leader of the TU Teens program, has been teaching these kids to fly fish during the after school program all year, and this trip was an opportunity for them to put these newly developed skills into practice. Judge Richard Altman of Defiance County, a friend of Mayes, owns a cabin in Manistee and offered it for the group and to come along helping teens fish the river.
“The guy couldn’t have been nicer. He worked with the kids as well as anyone I’ve ever seen work with kids with fly fishing,” Mayes said of Altman, whose generosity helped make the trip possible.
The TU Teens program in Gallia County is funded entirely by donations from local businesses and individuals.
“Thank you to the sponsors, they are the backbone of this program. Without them we would have nothing,” said Mayes.
This trip alone accrued substantial costs with travel, food, lodging, and gear for eight people capable of reaching a significant amount.
The teens had three solid days of trout fishing on the Manistee, catching rainbow, brown, brook, and steelhead trout on fly rods. The first day was just the boys fishing to help get them acclimated to the new waters, while the girls went to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Traverse City.
“We did this so that the boys would be comfortable in the water, and could help out the girls,” said Mayes. On the second full day of fishing, the girls ended up catching more fish than the boys, who then had to do the dishes after supper that evening.
After three full days in Manistee of fishing, hiking, and campfires, the group packed up early Tuesday morning and made the long drive home.
When asked about competition between the teens, Mayes explained that he discourages it as much as he can.
“There are plenty of places to be competitive in life, fishing isn’t one of them. When I see a kid bragging about the size or amount of fish he caught, I tell him to go and help someone not catching as much.”
He explained how this helps grow the group together and makes them all better fisherman, it is all about helping each other. An idea teens can apply the rest of their lives.
Mayes also wanted to thank the adults that helped make the trip possible by coming along: Debbie and Jamie Eggers, Paula Williams-Ray, and Sandra Mayes.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.