Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration Project: Delton Jamboree Model gains statewide support

LAKE DELTON, Wis. – nationally coined the “Delton Jamboree Model” (DJM) after the waterway and village of its founding, the DJM was recently recognized leading edge in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 2nd Annual LD Youth Fishing Jamboree at Kaminski Park by the state agencies, organizers and partners, media and television cameras and amid fanfare of a 230-strong entourage of youth anglers, mentors and families participants.

Representing the State of Wisconsin were WI Tourism’s Sarah Klavas for Secretary Stephanie Klett, WI DNR’s Dave Rowe for Secretary Cathy Stepp, DJM founder and Exec Dir Ben Hobbins for the WI Youth Entrepreneurs Network with Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration Project co-founder Dan Small from Milwaukee Public Television, Karl Malcolm and representatives from the UW Madison Dept of Forest & Wildlife Ecology, Shelley Seiler and lady huntresses representing Workin’ for Whitetails Television/Droptine Divas for the Sportsmen’s Channel, Gander Mountain store’s pro Chuck Pohlman, UW-Whitewater’s FLW Collegiate Tour national champion Jordan Truetschel, organizing committee members and sponsors.

“State of Wisconsin leadership and support for the Delton Jamboree Model has been ongoing and core to the success of this educational, outdoor-tourism model’’, states Ben Hobbins. “Dan Small and I are thrilled to have key player support from the state and nation for the DJM.’’

In the USA, over 90 million Americans possess a hunting or fishing license. ‘’In our current era, adults must strive to steer youth away from sedentary lifestyles represented by video games and television …to the world of the living. We must urge youth to focus on active recreation, rediscover natural instincts and the human bond with the outdoors -fishing, hunting, gathering, conservation and exploration exploring waterways, lands and regions’’. Hobbins is on the Board of Directors of DC-based, F3 or Future Fishermen Foundation, a decades old foundation focusing on fishing and K-12 education, with successful national programs such as HOFNOD –“hooked on fishing, not on drugs’’ and others. He also leads the WYEN, the strategic partnership with WI DPI and UW Extension.

The DJM was first envisioned by Hobbins in the fall of 2009 as an ‘’ongoing tool’’ for the Dells area to draw attention to the region’s successful restoration -and enhancements. It was designed to celebrate Lake Delton –the Dell’s crown jewel and the $1B dollar a year tourism base it represents for Wisconsin. The event was orchestrated part of the successful $350K Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration Project business model, a project that concluded last fall with effective public and private teamwork for rebuilding, restoring, enhancing infrastructure and restocking of the lost waterway with brand new fisheries after the June 9 2008 natural disaster…the 2nd Jamboree marks the 3rd Anniversary of Lake Delton and area’s restoration.

‘’Support has come at the highest level across state agencies for the educational Delton Jamboree Model because it promotes agency activity crossovers, opportunities and partnering. It connects youth, families, mentors and educational institutions, clubs and other participants through a subtle educational model that also links together regional tourism interests with outdoor education, sustainability and conservation practices and promotion of the outdoors,’’ states Hobbins.

‘’At the 1st Jamboree a year ago we implemented the DJM –only a year after first stocking began, about 60 kids and another 50 or so mentor-family members were catching and documenting fish of all species in large numbers –caught nearly every cast!’’ states Dan Small.

This year’s 2nd Annual LD Fishing Jamboree hooked over 130 youth anglers of both genders and another 75 or so mentor-family members in tow for a fun-filled half-day of activities on WI-DNR’s free fishing weekend. The 130 enthusiastic youth anglers were soon to become ‘’youth fisheries biologists’’ at event’s end. ‘’This year the weather was beautiful for the jamboree event, the fish larger and swimming deeper. Fewer fish were caught, but that did not rub off enthusiasm,’’ added Small. The 3rd Annual Lake Delton Youth Fishing Jamboree event is reserved next year for June 2, 2012.

For this year’s event, Wisconsin Tourism and the Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau provided media and PR support for the event along with a host of additional key media sponsors. The DNR provided support and fishing equipment for anglers who were in need. Free bait and tackle was provided as well as a pontoon boat to take youth anglers out for their first try at fishing from a boat by Schleef’s Bait and Tackle on Lake Delton. The Jamboree Organizing Committee consisted of television and outdoor writer icon Dan Small, DJM founder/director and Outdoor Life 25 and Popular Science Top 10 Inventor Ben Hobbins, Gander Mountain stores- Matt Womble and Rich Stone, Dan Fitzgerald of Horizon DBM, Paul Fish of Preferred Distribution, Gary Engberg of GEO, and Karl Malcolm of UW Madison Wildlife and Ecology Department.

A Novel Delton Jamboree Model

This year’s jamboree started with youth angler registration, jamboree introductions and event run through. Youth participants next proceeded to a ‘’youth fisheries biologist clinic’’ …light education on how to ‘’catch, record and release’’ fish led by UW Madison’s Kurt Malcolm for youth anglers and mentors on taking an effective fisheries survey –identifying and recording fish species and size on clipboards during the jamboree.

it was off to fishing up and down the waterway. During the event, mentors and family members assist their youth anglers in fishing …instilling a lifetime family/mentor bond -and with the waterway. Jamboree anglers ranged girl/boy, aged toddler through 16.

At jamboree’s end, youth anglers, mentors and families gathered with youth angler ‘’youth fisheries biologist surveys’’ in hand for ceremonies. Once here, youth anglers presented the jamboree’s ‘’real-time’’ fisheries survey results to WI DNR officials present. Youth anglers then ‘’graduated’’ to ‘’youth fisheries biologist’’ status. The essence, youth anglers became not only new anglers, but then receive commendation certificates -‘’Youth Fisheries Biologist’’ certificates signed by WI DNR officials, Karl Malcolm from UW Madison Wildlife and Ecology, and LDFRP founders Ben Hobbins and Dan Small.

Next, youth anglers, families and participants proceeded to consume a free, nutritious ‘’shore lunch’’ prepared by Wilderness Resort chefs and staff onsite (hot dogs, brats and chips). Non-alcoholic beverages were provided free of charge by Preferred Distribution of Lake Delton. This year’s jamboree included speeches and ribbon-cutting ceremonies by state and jamboree dignitaries. Then Grab bags filled with DNR youth programs brochures, outdoor-related and other trinkets were provided by Gander Mountain stores and other sponsors. Picture taking followed with youth angler-fisheries biologists, state officials and jamboree dignitaries.

“The DJM model is a project-based tool ideal for the PK-12 educational environment …connecting youth and our educational system with conservation, biology and ecosystems, natural sciences and careers,’’ adds Hobbins. “Clearly this tool fits WYEN and partners WI DPI and UW Extension goals, connecting PK-12 classrooms, biology and natural science with real world activities’’.

Youth Angler, Mentor Take Aways

‘’The Delton Jamboree Model is project-based, “education through doing’’ for youth. It provides youth a preliminary understanding of the balance humans’ strike with the outdoors, natural resources, fisheries, waterway and related wildlife ecologies, and sustainable management practices. Our goal is also to forge an instinctive bond to the outdoors and regions. It also shows youth anglers what is like to be a fisheries biologist,’’ states Hobbins.

Take aways abound in the DJM for youth anglers, mentors, families and participants alike.

* The joy and discovery of catching one’s first fish
* The joy and satisfaction of catching fish with family and friends
* Discovering the thoughtful process of catching fish
* Discovering instinct and bond with the wonder of the outdoors
* Developing the bond with waterway, land, culture and region
* Discovering the imaginative process and understanding of what swims in the waterway
* Developing human awareness part of catching, keeping or releasing fish
* Gaining positive understanding of fisheries and what career DNR biologist does every day
* Developing connections, perhaps a future interest in a career in the outdoors and conservation
* Developing understanding the dynamics of sustainable fisheries practices –planning, stocking efforts, size and legal limit restrictions and conservation as they relate to waterways ecosystems

Fishing Success at the 2nd Annual Lake Delton Youth Fishing Jamboree

‘’Hundreds of fish were caught this year- and as expected, not as many fish as last year because stocked fish have gotten larger and travel in deeper quarters,’’ states Small. “Walleyes were nearly 15” slot size! …Only 2 years after 1.5-inch fingerlings were released. Some slot size walleyes were brought to shore along with smaller walleyes, small and largemouth bass, yellow bass, perch, bluegills, bull heads and even carp by youth anglers.’’

Among so many, one highlight was when Hudson Turner of Baraboo caught a DNR-tagged largemouth bass. This fish was tagged a week earlier by DNR Fisheries biologists in a fish-tagging operation. ‘’Hudson was thrilled and so were we. This was the ‘’lunker’’ of the Jamboree because it connected lake restoration efforts, DNR Fisheries operations with those of youth angler-fisheries biologists trying so hard to catch and identify fish in the lake’’, stated Hobbins. ‘’This connected nicely for an unforgettable experience for youth participants.’’

LDFRP founders Ben Hobbins and Dan Small feel the Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration Project combined with the DJM model have potential to transform natural disaster relief efforts for waterways and natural areas by providing a fundraising-restoration business model to restore areas affected by natural or man-made disasters, along with the ongoing event in this case for waterways –the DJM.

Small and Hobbins feel the jamboree provides an ongoing mechanism to celebrate restoration of an area, the efforts and partners who helped, shed light on sound conservation and fisheries management practices, while inducting and bonding novice and experienced youth anglers and families to the outdoors, waterways and regions. The format also includes direct and indirect interaction and support from major national and area sponsors and hands-on mentoring from professional and collegiate fishing circuit anglers, sportsmen clubs, boys and girls clubs organizations, parent and other volunteer-mentors.

Hobbins goes on to say that the DJM is a ‘’project-ready’’ capsule for PreK-12 activities, biology and environmental education classes, and clubs of all types throughout the state via the Wisconsin Youth Entrepreneurs Network and its partnership with DPI. ‘’This is a project-based approach to learning about environmental education.

This type of project is a priority for WYEN, WI DNR, Tourism and DPI agencies’’, states Hobbins. “We want to expose youth to project-based learning, to related careers, the world of the outdoors, and expose students to the world of biology, ecology, ecosystems, effective conservation and sustainable management practices for natural resources. We also want to connect youth and families with regions, lands and waterways and help youth find, joyful careers in sustaining outdoor-tourism for the state and nation.’’

Restoration: Lake Delton’s 3rd Anniversary

As seen on 24/7 media, June 9 2008 marked the day Lake Delton’s banks breached and waters drained -taking homes, an entire fishery, a large part of the tourism industry and much of Wisconsin Dell’s spirit into adjacent Wisconsin River in mere hours. Hope struck and the clock started. The Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration Project was founded days later with Ben Hobbins calling Dan Small; Hobbins then met directly with Lake Delton/Wisconsin Dells officials. Days later, the ‘’LDFRP Task Force’’ was formed at the Village of Lake Delton MacKessey Center, made up of WI DNR’s regional fisheries biologist Tim Larson, retired state DNR fisheries biologist Gordy Priegel and project founders Ben Hobbins and Dan Small. The LDFRP was launched weeks later at a press conference and national media channels at the Outdoor Writers of America Association’s national conference June 21 2008 in Bismarck, ND. August 2008 at a press conference arranged by the Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau before a dry lakebed -Hobbins, Small, Larson and Priegel launched the joint regional effort and call to restore Lake Delton in a nationally televised press conference.

June 9, 2009 -a year later, marked the 1st anniversary of the disaster and the lake and area’s restoration in a ‘’Welcome Back Lake Delton Celebration’’ complete with a boat parade, honors by state and local officials and release of the fisheries’ first game fish by Hobbins, Small and the DNR. This stocking was preceded only months earlier by the release of millions of forage fish into Lake Delton’s new and virgin waters. Since fish stocking began for Lake Delton in spring of 2009, 10’s of thousands of walleye, small and largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappies, bluegills and millions of forage minnows were successfully stocked.

June 5, 2010 a successful 1st Annual Lake Delton Youth Fisheries Jamboree marked the 2nd anniversary of LD’s restoration with 60 youth anglers and ‘’catch, record, and release’’ fisheries surveys taken by ‘’youth fishery biologists-anglers’’ presented to the WI DNR in December 2010 by founders Hobbins and Small, concluding the successful $350K LDFRP effort to restore Lake Delton. June 4, 2011 the 2nd Annual LD Youth Fishing Jamboree concludes with 130 youth angler fisheries biologists and a ribbon-cutting ceremony of support for the youth education, DJM outdoor-tourism model.

June 2, 2012 is the 3rd Annual Lake Delton Youth Fishing Jamboree.

Stay tuned: Dan Small and Ben Hobbins are producing and directing an in-depth television documentary on the Restoration of Lake Delton and how to restore natural disaster areas.

Jamboree Sponsors

WI DNR, WI Tourism, Wisconsin Youth Entrepreneurs Network-DPI/UWEX partnership, Gander Mountain stores, Sunset Bays Resorts, Wilderness Resorts, LDFRP founders Small and Hobbins, Outdoor Life 25/Popular Science Top 10 inventor Ben Hobbins, Dan Small Outdoors, F3 –the Future Fisherman Foundation/TBF -the Bass Federation, Horizon DBM, River’s Edge Bait & Tackle, Brunswick/Crestliner™ Boat Group, Frabill, Clear Channel/WIBA,, Preferred Distribution of Lake Delton, Schleef’s Bait & Tackle, RBFF –the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Wilderness Outdoors of Sauk City, Frito Lay, Gary Engberg Outdoors, the and many more. (A complete sponsor list can be found at the links below)

© 6/2011 LDFRP Ben Hobbins & Dan Small


LDFRP Contact Information

Founder, Director Ben Hobbins

Founder Dan Small

‘’Rebuilding Lake Delton and its fisheries, one fish at a time’’