Fish to Learn, Fish for Life
by Ron Presley
Creating anglers for the future
Joe Jellison is a self-described husband, father, teacher, coach, and fishing freak. The emphasis is on family first, occupation second, and fishing third. Nevertheless, fishing plays an important role in all his activities.
As proprietor and creator of Chatt Cat Fishing on YouTube, Jellison uses his channel to teach other anglers about catfishing. For about the last year he has carried his passion for catfishing to the classroom through an idea he picked up from another teacher/fishing guide in the Chattanooga, TN area.
“I saw my friend, Sam Simons, a guide with Scenic City Fishing Charters, taking his elementary students fishing,” recalled Jellison. “He has been doing it for several years. I thought it was a great idea to reward students with a fishing trip as well, so I started doing it with my high school students.”
Jellison’s motto is, Fish to Learn, Fish for Life. He wants his viewers and his students to understand that fishing is not just about catching fish. More importantly, it’s about learning while you fish, having a great time, and making good memories. What a perfect reward for the students he takes fishing.
Plenty of people use the outdoors as therapy, and Jellison does too. But when it comes to his students, he intends a learning experience too.
“I hope students will get an appreciation for the outdoors and have fun while doing it,” declared Jellison. “I also hope they learn a thing or two about fishing. Whether that’s casting the rod, unhooking the fish, or properly releasing the fish. There’s always something to learn while fishing.”
“It’s like I am taking my classroom out on the river,” joked Jellison. “And in addition, there’s always the chance of catching a fish of a lifetime.”
As it turned out, one of Jellison’s students did just that on a trip near downtown Chattanooga. He even had his girlfriend with him and she caught her PB blue cat.
“The best catfish a student caught while fishing with me was a 41-pound blue catfish,” recalled Jellison. “We were fishing in downtown Chattanooga.”
“He had his girlfriend with him, so it was kind of an outdoor date,” joked Jellison. “We were using cut skipjack as bait. We were anchored under a bridge and one rod just buried down. We had pretty good current that day, so, this student was battling the fish and the current. It took him close to 10 minutes to get in. After the fish was in the boat they both held it and I took a picture. The girl ended up getting catfish slime in her hair. Everyone was laughing and happy.”
Jellison videoed the whole thing and posted it on Chatt Cat Fishing on YouTube. You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtWsp7iZUqw&t=200s.
“I take some students out towards the end of the school year,” remarked Jellison. It is kind of a reward, for doing well in my class. I really don’t have any structure to it. I simply pick students that perform well in my classroom and show a great attitude and love for the outdoors.”
“I really don’t have a set number,” offered Jellison. “It’s usually about 5 kids. I select them based on their circumstances. Sometimes I’ll take a kid who has never been fishing. Other times, it may be a kid who has a bad home life and I try to reach out in a positive way. Selection really depends on the situation.”
“I get excited when the kids anticipate the trip,” concluded Jellison. “The best part is seeing a student’s face light up when they catch a fish.”