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First fishing trip is on the St. Croix River

It was hot, humid and windy, but for 10 residents of Norris Square Presbyterian Homes in Cottage Grove and three Hastings Rotary Club members, it was a great way to kick off the Let's Go Fishing program on the St. Croix River last week.

The Hastings Rotary Club and the Hastings Area Senior Center are partnering in this venture. The captain was Chuck Edberg.

According to Rotary Club president Jeff Carlson the fishing and boating excursion will initially be for seniors - people 55 and older, but the club also envisions planning intergenerational trips.

Earlier this spring the Hastings Rotary Club bought the 14-passenger pontoon boat, valued at about $40,000. Through fundraisers, including a wine tasting events, and a generous grant from the Ruth Gale and George Doffing Foundation, and several business donations, the boat is paid for. The boat is handicapped-accessible, offers comfortable seating, and is very sturdy. Volunteers have been well-trained to handle it on the excursions.

"We estimate it is going to cost us about $10,000 a year to run the boat and excursions," said Carlson. Donations are welcome and appreciated to help with the costs of insurance, boat maintenance and dockage fees. So far, the response has been excellent, he said.

All trips are free, and the rods and reels are provided on the fishing trips. Life jackets are a must for all on the boat.

Edberg guided the boat to a nearby bay close to Prescott on the first trip and the rods and reels became the attention. Later, there would be several fish stories to share.

Each trip is about two hours in length and the Rotary Club is still scheduling the trips for this summer. They can be arranged through the Senior center at 438-0750.