PEWAUKEE — Teaching kids the ins-and-outs of fishing, that's the goal of “Fishing For the Heart.” The faith-based, non-profit organization was started in 2013 by Caleb Niedfeldt. Niedfeldt is a teacher at Lutheran Special School and takes his students and at-risk kids out on the open waters to share the love and joy of fishing.
“An at-risk kid can be any kid in the organization. It’s kind of giving back the passion that we have for the sport and with Fishing For The Heart, we try to make it as real as possible not just going to a pond and throwing in a bobber, actually going on a boat ride and going fast,” said Niedfeldt.
Before the students hop into the boat, the kids get a lesson on safety and how to properly use a rod and reel. Throughout the years, Niedfeldt and a group of mentor fisherman have taken more than 500 kids out on lakes to enjoy the sport.
Josef Luetner has been a mentor with the organization for more than two years, he said he enjoys sharing the adventure of fishing with younger generations.
“We can’t guarantee fish, that’s why they call it fishing and not catching but we are trying to make it the most fun and exciting experience they can have,” said Luetner.
Best friends, Caleb and Roe went out with the group of mentor fisherman on Pewaukee Lake Saturday morning. They caught Bluegills, Bass, and enjoyed every minute on the water. Neidfelt said that’s what the program is all about seeing the smiles of the kid's faces.
Along with teaching the students how to fish, Neidfelt hopes to help build good character in each kid.
“To see them reel in the fish, and laughing, and enjoying the outdoors, and seeing them smile it’s the motivation for fishing from the heart,” said Niedfeldt.
Although Saturday was a good day out on the lake, it wasn’t about the size of the fish that mattered most, it was about the priceless memories made.
“Even for them to catch a little bluegill, the smile and laughter they get out of it is really what we take away from it and motivates us to continue to grow and take more and more kids out,” said Niedfeldt.
The organization is trying to raise funds for additional fishing equipment, so they can give more kids the experience of fishing. If you would like to help donate or find out more information on the organization, click here.