Want to learn more about fishing? Try teaching your craft to someone else

Fishing class brought an important lesson for columnist Jordan Rodriguez and his students — whether you are an experienced angler or a total newcomer, there is always something new to learn.
Fishing class brought an important lesson for columnist Jordan Rodriguez and his students — whether you are an experienced angler or a total newcomer, there is always something new to learn. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to teach my fishing class, “Stop Fishing, Start Catching,” through The College of Idaho Community Learning program in Caldwell. It was my third time teaching the class, and every group has been great.

Over the years, I have found that some of the most rewarding learning experiences come while teaching others. This is especially true with fishing, because I get to watch people discover the same joy and excitement I first became hooked on as a youngster.

That was certainly true this time around, as I found myself learning new lessons and rediscovering old ones alongside my students. Here are some of my favorite takeaways:

Fishing is for everyone: I had 17 students in class, bringing the total to 46 through three sessions. My diverse group came from all kinds of backgrounds. Hawaiians. Texans. Even a fellow Michigander. They ranged in age from a high school sophomore to retirees. Every student had slightly different goals and expectations for their future fishing adventures, but our common desire to learn and grow as anglers brought us all together.

Fishing is mysterious: Teaching the class is a great reminder of how puzzling — even intimidating — fishing can be. Imagine having no prior experience and walking into a sporting goods store overflowing with thousands of lures and fishing gadgets. Where would you even begin? One of my primary goals as an instructor is to cut through the clutter and give anglers the basic tools needed to catch some fish. Where they go from there is up to them — and that’s the beauty of the sport!

Experience counts: The class included a Saturday fishing trip. We fished a prime location along the Snake River, but for nearly an hour, nobody got a bite. Baffled, I got out my rod and tied on a spinner. Within a dozen casts, I broke the spell with a rainbow trout. After that, I was able to get the rest of the group dialed in with some coaching on lure choice and retrieval technique. But it was a great reminder that while knowledge is important, there’s also a practical element of fishing that only hands-on experience can teach.

Practice what you preach: I always tell students to bring a net on every trip. On a recent steelhead adventure, I forgot my own advice, figuring someone else in my group would bring one. No one did, and I was stuck landing steelhead by hand all weekend. I won’t let that happen again!

I’m not alone: For many, fishing is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and occasionally bring home dinner.

Then there are the diehards.

It brought a smile to my face to see my youngest student’s eyes light up the moment we hit the water. At 16, he was already the best angler in the group. He successfully sight-fished several large trout and probably landed a dozen fish by lunchtime. As the rest of the class filtered out, I stuck around and caught some fish with him. When I headed home, he was still casting away, grinning from ear to ear.

I know exactly how he felt.

Tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at

Come ice fishing with me

Winter is coming, and I’m teaching an ice fishing class this fall through The College of Idaho’s Community Learning program in Caldwell. Join me Nov. 14 and 16 for “Ice Fishing 101,” which focuses on the gear, tackle and knowledge you’ll need to catch fish through the ice this winter. The course costs $59, which includes four hours of classroom instruction and activities (6-8 p.m. Nov. 14 and 16 in the Marty Holly Athletics Center) and a Saturday ice fishing trip at a date TBD. Every participant receives a tackle goodie bag, plus chances to win awesome prizes. Register online at For more info, call (208) 459-5188 or email