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In pole position for spring fishin'

Harley Howland, a Bloomington resident who took a fishing-rod construction class through a District 833 Community Education class in Woodbury, checks to see if his rod's guides are aligned. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker1 / 2
Minneapolis resident Tom Venne wraps his pole with thread to keep his rod's guides in place. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker2 / 2

Cabin fever was spiking last week in Woodbury.

Anglers eager to wet their lines put the finishing touches on fishing rods they constructed as part of a Community Education class at Central Park.

"I've got spring fever now," said Carly Karjala, a Woodbury woman who attended the class with her husband Brent.

Participants in the class spent about three weeks assembling fishing rods under the instruction of Dave Hanke of River Falls.

Once they determined what they would be fishing for - spin-cast set-ups for walleye fishing or bait-cast rods for bass fishing - the participants picked out their own components, then let Hanke lead the way.

That included a painstaking process that required the amateur rod-makers to attach guides - the holes the fishing line passes through - to the rods with a metallic thread. On Wednesday, Feb. 27, class participants employed the final touches by applying an epoxy material to the rods to help hold the guides in place and to raise a fine sheen on the pieces they'd constructed.

Though Hanke, who builds and sells his own custom rods, can usually have a fully constructed rod out the door in about five hours, his Community Education students found that their first attempts took about six times as long.

Not that anyone was complaining.

For Brent and Carly Karjala, the class was a gift they had gotten for each other.

"It's a good winter project," said Brent Karjala.

Harley Howland, a retired Bloomington resident who attended the class with his son, Woodbury resident Chip Howland, said he was inspired by the class.

"I may very well make another (rod)," he said.

As for the rod he just constructed - which was topped off with a custom-engraved cedar grip - Harley Howland said he was eager to put it into action.

"I've got an itch," he said. "I'm ready."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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