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Illinois hunting and fishing

Nathan Ellis, 7, of Auburn and Brice Kaiser, 7, of Pawnee were fishing together at Sangchris Lake July 16 as part of Dewey Stewart’s Fishing with the Pros Youth Basic Fishing Clinic series. Photos by Chris Young

Even pros can learn a thing or two from the kids

July 31, 2011 at 08:04 AM

The State Journal-Register

When professional angler Dewey Stewart decided to host fishing clinics for kids who had never fished before, he probably didn’t count on them teaching him a thing or two.

“Watch me. I’m a natural,” said Nathan Ellis, 7, of Auburn.

Ellis and Brice Kaiser, 7, of Pawnee were fishing together at Sangchris Lake on July 16 as part of Stewart’s Fishing with the Pros Youth Basic Fishing Clinic series.

“Stay here and watch us catch a fish,” Kaiser said with confidence. “They bite instantly.”

When Stewart, who lives in Pawnee, saw what the boys were using for bait, an eyebrow went up.

The boys decided to forgo the wax worms provided and instead opened up a package of fruit snacks and broke them into tiny colorful bits.

“Really? Are you catching anything?” Stewart asked.

The formula worked, and the boys had the fish to prove it.

“I have seen it all,” he said with a laugh. “I have used corn. I have used cheese. But I have never used fruit snacks.

“I’m going to write that in my journal.”

Stewart, who is president of Midwest Garage Door in Pawnee, spends his free time traveling to musky and walleye tournaments.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Dewey Stewart shows Nathan Ellis how to remove a hook.

Stewart and fishing partner Dennis Sweeney of Coal City are currently ranked fifth among anglers competing on the Professional Musky Tournament Trail.

Last weekend, Stewart competed in the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour stop on Green Bay in Wisconsin.

The first clinic was smaller than anticipated because of some last-minute cancellations, but Stewart says the small group setting worked better for a pair of boys with special needs.

Everyone received one-on-one attention.

“I’m having a lot of fun working with these two guys,” Stewart said. “It’s a whole new experience for me.”

Mikey Steinkuhler, 16, of Auburn practically performed a touchdown dance after landing each sunfish.

Often he would run off to show everyone else the fish before it could be taken off the hook.

“Mikey, where are you going?” Stewart asked. “Are you taking that fish on vacation?”

He says one day he would like to expand the clinics to include more special-needs children.

Two more clinics remain this summer for kids 8-12-years-old who have never fished before. Clinics will be held from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Aug. 20 at Sangchris Lake and Sept. 17 at Prairie Lake at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area near Chandlerville.

Classes are limited to 20 kids per clinic. One parent must attend with each child. There is no cost for the clinic.

A team of professional anglers will provide instruction, including John Michalec, Jon Stewart, Tom Ustaszewski, Dennis Sweeney and Dewey Stewart.

To register, e-mail Stewart at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.

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