‘Fishinistas’ go fishing with a Good Cheer mission

DeAnn Olson of Freeland catches her third pink salmon after the Fishing 101 workshop at Trinity Lutheran Church. The women’s fishing group, called the Fishinistas, are donating every second fish caught this season to Good Cheer Food Bank.  - Laura Canby photo
DeAnn Olson of Freeland catches her third pink salmon after the Fishing 101 workshop at Trinity Lutheran Church. The women’s fishing group, called the Fishinistas, are donating every second fish caught this season to Good Cheer Food Bank.
— image credit: Laura Canby photo

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime, so goes the old proverb.

Teach a woman to fish, and you’ll fill the freezer at the local food bank.

That could be the new saying at Trinity Lutheran Church after the success of its service-learning group, the Fishinistas.

Thanks to some intrepid fisherwomen from the church and instructors from the Fishin’ Club, the Good Cheer Food Bank has stocked salmon on its shelves. Volunteers from the anglers’ association have been teaching South Whidbey women how to land the big ones — or those large enough to make a dish of the fish.

One of those to get hooked is new fisher DeAnn Olson.

“It just happened,” Olson said. “I think it had something to do with a virgin pole and rod — I had just purchased it.

“Maybe it was my Norwegian blood.”

Her ancestry may have played a part, but not as much as the lessons from the class, she said.

She had fished before (many years ago) but not from the beach or shoreline. It was quite a learning curve to go from novice angler to salmon provider in a day.

Good Cheer officials are excited about the new classes, and hope others may, well, take the bait.

“We’re encouraging others to give if they learned as well as DeAnn,” said Kathy McLaughlin, Good Cheer’s executive director.

She praised Olson for donating two salmon for the food bank. The salmon fillets Olson donated to the food bank were all purchased within 30 minutes of being stocked; and fillets from other fishers and Fishinistas have disappeared just as quickly.

“It’s going to be very popular,” McLaughlin said.

Olson and a group of 25 women, called the TLC Fishinistas, learned the fishing techniques and tips at a recent workshop.

Jerry Shimek and Kevin Lungren, both members of the Fishin’ Club, taught fishing basics to the group during a Sunday afternoon. The two anglers instructed the women about the equipment needed for beach fishing, reviewed fishing rules and offered safety tips to give them confidence.

They were naturals at it, Lungren said.

“Most of them were moms,” he said. “Being a mom takes patience; fishing takes patience.”

Then seven of the women went fishing near Bush Point. They didn’t wait long before Olson’s rod started bending. Her first cast she reeled in a small sculpin. Then the pinks started biting.

Fellow fisherwoman Pam Kniseley of Clinton caught on to the lessons as well. She hooked two pink salmon the Monday after the class with Shimek and her husband Jack at Bush Point.

Within two hours, Kniseley had almost 10 pounds of salmon she was ready to fillet for the food bank, except four servings for her mom, neighbor, husband and her.

The next day, she delivered the fish to the food bank.

Despite living on South Whidbey for 30 years, it was her first time visiting the Bayview location.

“I was so excited; it was wonderful,” Kniseley said.

The group’s goal is to donate every second salmon caught to the food bank. Olson was the only angler to catch any fish that first day of class. She was prepared, too, because she brought a cooler and ice to keep the catch fresh.

Good Cheer also received a run of donated fish from the 2009 Whidbey Island Pink Salmon Derby. Lungren left a large cooler for any fishers who wanted to donate their catch at 9:30 a.m. By noon, the fridge was full and four hours remained in the derby.

“It was a lot of fish,” McLaughlin said.

Good Cheer is again leaving a cooler for donated salmon at the derby this Saturday. Because Lungren won’t be able to clean and fillet the humpies, a volunteer is needed.

Anglers not in the derby or in the women’s group are encouraged to donate their catch, too.

Laura Canby, the Fishinistas organizer, said Good Cheer is accepting salmon donations, including ones that are not cleaned or filleted, at several beaches during the fishing contest today.

Food bank officials said they require that donated fish are fresh and not frozen, and the type of fish and the date it was caught need to be known.

“We’re happy to take it,” McLaughlin said. “Vacuum-packed fish are ideal.”

Any anglers can call the food bank at 221-4868 for details.

A second fishing workshop is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland. Shimek will demonstrate fillet techniques and more fishing tips.

A seasoned beach fisher now, Olson tried her luck again last week near Mutiny Bay. The pinks were biting on her two-and-a-half inch bright pink Buzz Bomb lure. She reeled in one humpy a few feet from her, only to have it jump off the hook.

The joy for Olson, however, is beyond catching or eating the big one.

“The real thrill, other than having a couple meals from the fish I kept, was giving away the others,” Olson said.

“I don’t care if I have a freezer full or not. It’s the giving that means something to me.”

With a mission behind the fishing, Olson, her husband Jeff and the Fishinistas are taking to the beaches while the pinks are still running.

“Now that we know how to fish from the shore, we will,” she said.


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