Union volunteers introduce youth to ice fishing

Volunteer Mike Rodger (center) of Cement Masons Local 633 shared ice fishing tactics with a pair of young participants. (submitted photo)

Elevator Constructors Local 9 and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance co-hosted Take Kids Ice Fishing Day last Saturday on frozen Chisago Lake, where dozens of union volunteers introduced more than 75 young anglers to the sport.

“We had a great turnout, and the event went really well,” project leader and Local 9 member Dave Morin said. “It’s awesome to see all these kids getting out to experience ice fishing, some for the first time.”

The event was free for all registered kids, who came from across the Twin Cities metro area to enjoy hands-on ice fishing instruction and access to state-of-the-art fishing gear.

“This is a really cool idea,” said David Brandner of Inver Grove Heights, who brought his son Mason to the event. “You’re getting kids involved in the outdoors, which is wonderful. Plus how many people can say they took their kid fishing and got a free fishing pole?”

At the conclusion of the event, participants received an ice-fishing starter kit, which included a Pure Fishing ice fishing rod and reel, game calls from Plano Synergy and other goodies. Additionally, unions and other sponsors donated over $3,000-worth of door prizes for participants.

“We’re grateful for everyone who put this event together,” said Tony Wilking, a retired U.S. Army veteran who attended with his 6-year-old son, Jack. “Activities like ice fishing are so much better for kids than sitting inside playing video games.”

In addition to Local 9, event sponsors included the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, IBEW Local 110, Operating Engineers Local 49, Cement Masons Local 633, Pipefitters Local 539, UA Plumbers Local 15, Roofers Local 96 and the Minneapolis and St. Paul Building and Construction Trades councils.

Take Kids Ice Fishing Day is an initiative of the Sportsmen’s Alliance Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, supported by Bass Pro Shops, Plano Synergy, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Pure Fishing, Remington Arms and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Additional corporate partners included Clam Outdoors, Joe’s Sporting Goods, Maynard’s Tackle, Northland Fishing Tackle and Today’s Tackle.

“My wife is an AFSCME union member and we’re both happy to be out here doing something positive for our community,” Cement Masons Local 633 member Jarrod Asleson said. “This is our second time volunteering at a Union Sportsmen’s Alliance youth ice fishing event, and we’re already looking forward to next year.”

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