Fishing for a grade

Chuck Melber

For some students it takes going to college to learn how to catch a fish.

Coastal fishing teacher Chuck Melendez has been teaching students how to cast a line here at City College since 1991.

“It’s always fun to catch their reaction to their first fish,” Melendez said.

Melendez meets with his fishing class weekly on Friday mornings. Each class consists of a short lecture followed by hands-on fishing experience.

Santa Barbara’s beautiful landscape provides the perfect venue for Melendez to expose his students to many different types of this ocean activity.

There are the numerous sandy beaches, such as Leadbetter, which is perfect for perusing the barred surf spot. Stearns Wharf is also a good location to teach the different rigging techniques needed for pier fishing. Fishing from the piers offers a different prey from that of the beach; sharks, bass, halibut and the occasional bonito can all be caught.

The Santa Ynez River is also a prime location for trout fishing, thanks to the California State Department of Fish and Game, which regularly stocks farm-raised trout in the river every year.

For City College student, and first time fisherman Luke Trandal, the course is “definitely the most fun class I have ever taken here.”

Melendez started the class after several suggestions were made by the administration of Humboldt State University, where he completed his master’s degree in physical education health and recreation.

Prior to teaching the class, Melendez served as head coach for the football and baseball teams at City College. Now, he is currently the head coach of the women and men’s golf teams.

The majority of the trips taken this semester have been to the local beaches. However, the class has also ventured inland to the Red Rock recreation area.

Most of the fish caught have been perch. Melendez has the students release all of the perch to teach the students about resource conservation

However, if someone catches a halibut or sea bass, Melendez will demonstrate the proper way to clean the fish.

Melendez hopes to cover as many aspects of fishing as possible while in the classroom, such as knot tying and the rules and regulations of the sport. He has also given a few lessons on how to make a fishing pole. In attempt to offset his own knowledge, Melendez has invited experts from different fields of fishing to give students lessons.

One such expert is Brian Kettler, a former student of Melendez’s, who has conducted one demonstration on the finer aspects of perch fishing.

All students are also required to purchase a California fishing license.

In attempt to provide equal instruction on both salt and freshwater angling, Melendez has invited Dan Boettner, better known as the “Fish Hawk,” from Bend, Oregon, to come and give a lesson on fly fishing to this semester’s class.

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Melendez has been fishing from the coastal waters of Santa Barbara ever since he was young.

“[The class] is a special thing for me because students always seem to remember the class and the excitement of their first catch,” Melendez said.

-Chuck Melber is a

Journalism 101 student