Fishing marathon will raise money, awarenessThree anglers will spend 24 hours fishing Spring Lake as part of fund raiser
By: Chad Hjellming, Rosemount Town Pages
On Sept. 9 and 10, three St. Paul anglers will set up camp in Lower Spring Lake Park Reserve, right along the shoreline, where they will compete against anglers across the country to catch the most fish in a single 24-hour period.
Team Zombie – which includes Andre Xiong, his wife Xoua Thao and his sister Paulette Xiong – is competing in the 24-hour Fish-A-Thon, a stewardship and fundraising event put on across North America by Recycled Fish. The event is designed to raise awareness for the problems facing fisheries and money to help solve those problems through education.
Team Zombie has been participating in the Fish-A-Thon since it started three years ago. This is the first year, however, they’ve chosen to fish Spring Lake. After fishing the same location the past two years, they decided they wanted to try somewhere new, but without going too far from home. Andre, a naturalist for Dakota County Parks, had led a few youth fishing programs in Spring Lake Park Reserve, so the trio decided to set their version of the competition there. It’s a picturesque spot, located at the bottom of the archery trail off the Fahey Avenue entrance to the reserve.
Since they registered for the event in the spring, Team Zombie has been working to raise funds for Recycled Fish, a non-profit organization of anglers that promote stewardship on and off the water. The team’s goal is to raise more money than they’ve raised in previous years — the first year was their best fundraising effort, when they raised about $300. So far this year, they’ve raised about $100.
Stewardship is especially important to Andre. An avid fisherman, he’s more than familiar with the amount of waste left in the water. Since anglers spend so much time on the water, he figures it’s natural to encourage them to keep it clean.
“We’re already connected to that, so we should all be stewards,” he said.
Paulette has been fishing with her brother for several years, and it was her idea to form a team of her own this year. Her female friends often asked her about the sport, so she thought it would be a good idea to get a group of women together, in part just for a fun event and in part to encourage other women to get involved in fishing.
Statistically there are fewer women anglers, Andre said. He cited a 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife study that showed 20 percent of men in the U.S. fished, compared to only 6 percent of women. Within the angling community, women only make up about 25 percent.
Paulette wasn’t able to form her own team, however, so Andre and Xoua joined her cause.
Xoua said she’s gotten involved with the 24-hour Fish-A-Thon mostly to support her husband, and admitted she’s not too fond of the 24-hour part. The rules allow teammates to rest, however, as long as there’s at least one person fishing the entire time.
Andre said he’s expecting to catch 50 to 100 fish. Since this is a catch-and-release event, they’ll document their numbers by taking photographs of each fish they catch. The photos will be uploaded to Recycled Fish’s website to be tallied.
Team Zombie said they welcome visitors while they fish. The public can stop by during regular park hours (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) Team Zombie will be fishing from 7 p.m. Sept. 9 to 7 p.m. Sept. 10. The park is accessible from Fahey Avenue via Highway 55 west of Hastings. Donations can be made online at www.recycledfish.org/our-programs/fish-a-thon-2011/team-zombie.htm.