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Gone Fishing!

Junior Jude Roach fishing on Lake Michigan (May 15, 2023)

Fishing Club and students ACP Biology, Dual Credit Biology 101, 9th Grade Biology, and Environmental Science went fishing Monday, May 15 with the goal of collecting samples and dietary data for later classroom observation and analysis.


Under Penn teacher John Gensic’s supervision, the students went out on Coast Guard Certified Charter Boat and landed 20 Coho Salmon and two King Salmon. Students were able to identify if the salmon were bred naturally or from a fish hatchery by examining the adipose fin. Those who caught the Coho Salmon determined that they appeared to be from natural reproduction while the two King Salmon had their adipose fin clipped as an indicator of being from a hatchery.


This was a great example of Penn’s Project Based Learning and gave students the opportunity to get a better understanding of the alewife fish overpopulation as the result of invasive species ecological impacts. Students also experienced the positive benefits of the introduction of Coho and King Salmon into the Great Lakes after the sea lamprey devastated the Lake Trout population. 

An Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Mini Grant covered the purchase of preservatives (isopropyl alcohol) of the stomach contents of some of the fish for Penn’s biology classes to examine. In addition to helping cover a portion of the cost of the outing, the IISG Mini Grant also covered the cost of a pair of waders to increase access at Cobus Creek and the Saint Joseph River. 

Mr. Gensic’s academic goal of this PBL is to increase students’ ecological understanding of the local watershed connected to Lake Michigan. The students will also study water with access to abiotic and biotic data collection events at Cobus Creek, the St. Joseph River, and Lake Michigan.