“Get people excited to go fishing. Like all I want to do is get them to go fishing, get them excited to go fishing,” said Gary Huntley.
When Huntley isn’t teaching English at Cape Fear Community College, he’s running The Fisherman’s Post, a local newspaper in Wilmington dedicated to keeping anglers informed.
Twelve years ago, Huntley founded a fishing school — giving local fishers an opportunity to become more educated about the industry in the Wilmington area.
“I mean I have people come back year after year and it’s not because they’re not learning, it’s not because they’re not retaining, they just enjoy the experience, and I think there are several communities going on right here,” Huntley said.
The experience is a day packed full of all things fish. Starting first thing in the morning with a breakfast of coffee and donuts, Huntley welcomes a crowd to the 12th annual Fisherman’s Post Fishing School.
People then disperse to one of the many classrooms set up, or to one of the various information tables throughout the convention center. The Fishing School offers multiple classes — with topics like species-specific fishing locations, artificial versus live bait, how to use cast nets, and much more.
”So that’s what I think has really defined our school, and is part of our popularity and what makes us different is every hour you have any number of choices so that you’re never suffering through something to get to something you’re more interested in,” Huntley said.
A catered lunch is served at noon and then it’s back to class, with each class being taught by someone directly involved with Wilmington’s local fisheries.
“I look for fisherman yes, and try to cover my areas inshore, nearshore, offshore, but in large part these guys have been picked because they are good communicators, because not every guide wants to share, but these guys are happy too,” Huntley said.
The school’s ultimate goal is to excite people about fishing, but Huntley recognizes there are other positives.
“What I’m really proud of is that I have guides collected here today that want to talk, they want to share, they want to be ambassadors. They want to bring people in and encourage them, because the guides know what I know, if they can get these guys connected and going fishing, then they’re going to be more concerned with the fishery, they’re going to take a more active role in preserving and caring for the fisher,” he said.
The school is held in person every February, one in Morehead City and one in Wilmington — but if you can’t wait until next year, the video access is available for an extended period of time after the classes are held.
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