Hunter education grads go fishing!

DON MARTIN/For the Miner -- 17-year-old Manny McCoy shows the 3.10-pound striper he caught while fishing on Lake Mead with Don Martin.

DON MARTIN/For the Miner -- 17-year-old Manny McCoy shows the 3.10-pound striper he caught while fishing on Lake Mead with Don Martin.

With the last two-weekend resident hunter education class of this year starting on Friday, I thought I'd write a story about the exploits of two of the graduates who recently went on an overnight striper fishing trip with me on Lake Mead.

As a chief instructor for the hunter education program in the Kingman area, a couple of years ago, my staff and I implemented a reward system for those youngsters that make the effort to do well in the classes.

As a reward for good behavior and outstanding performance during the two-weekend class, one of the things we offer to the top honor graduate and a parent/guardian is going on an overnight fishing trip with me out of South Cove on Lake Mead.

As a reward for being a good student and not causing any problems in the class, the honor graduate of the class also draws the name of one of the other students from a hat and that student and a parent/guardian also get to go on a trip.

The winners of the class we held in August 2009 were 17-year-old Manny McCoy, who was the top honor graduate, and Rhiannon Inman, who won the good student award.

The first trip I took was with McCoy and his stepfather Scot Durst. We went out about a week ago. It was a hot and muggy night, and like almost any fishing trips you go on, we had our share of drama, but we did catch fish. When I asked McCoy how many of the 61 fish we put into the boat were his, he replied, "I don't know, I wasn't counting, I was having too much fun!"

What I do know is that McCoy caught the biggest fish of the night, a lunker striper that weighed 3.10 pounds. We had a good night of fishing, and a heck of a lot of fun with Manny and his dad. It was obvious to me why my staff had chosen him as our top honor graduate. He is an outstanding young man!

A few days later, it was time to pay up on the fishing trip that 10-year-old Rhiannon had won. Going on the trip with her would be her friends, Gary Martin and Tammy Bollinger. The moon was full, which usually makes for tough fishing, and it was hot, but thankfully, we had a little wind when we pulled up to the spot near Greg's Hideout that I wanted to try.

It didn't take long before Rhiannon was hooked up with the first fish of the night. It was fitting that she caught the first fish since, after all, it was her trip. And just to put the icing on the cake, she landed what was to be the heaviest striper of the night. In the end, the young fisherman landed four stripers and two channel cats.

But the rigors of the all-night trip was a little too much for the young lady, and at about 2:30 a.m., she put down her pole and went to sleep while the rest of us tried to stay awake and fish.

As it turned out, we put 56 fish in the boat, including a hefty 2.2 pound channel cat that was the last fish I caught on the trip. Despite her short night of fishing, Rhiannon was all smiles and said she enjoyed herself on the trip. "I had a lot of fun!" she said.

As it turned out, both McCoy and Inman took home a lot of filleted stripers and catfish that will feed their families for a long time. Their trip was the reward of being good students while at the same time learning all about being a lawful, safe and ethical sportsman.

At the end of this next class, my staff will select two more deserving kids who will go on fishing trips next year.

If your son or daughter would like to be one of those kids, there is still time to pre-register for the class. Call Page McDonald at (928) 530-8286.