John Moe and Ross Kellermeier aren’t grizzled ship captains. Their fish tale doesn’t even start on a boat. It began in Spanish class. It was 2011 during the final days of freshman year for Moe and Kellermeier. Edina High School principal Bruce Locklear had just finished a presentation encouraging students to join a high school activity in the fall. “He said to us, ‘We’ve got every team and club here at the high school, and if we don’t have it, you can make it,’ ” Moe says.
Kellermeier and Moe loved fishing. Moe was equally intrigued by the idea of starting and running a club. During a time when most kids are dreaming of summer vacation, the pair led a group in planning a new fishing club at Edina High School.
The club officially launched the following fall, in 2011. “For being little 10th-graders it was an ambitious idea, and what it turned into is absolutely amazing,” Moe says.
Their mission was simple and infectious: “We love to fish, and we think you should too.” They also shared their motto, “Education through fishing.” They weren’t chasing competitions or trophies; they just wanted people to love their favorite sport. But trophies would come. They just didn’t know it at the time.
Moe became the club’s business manger, leading presentations and the recruiting process, and Kellermeier, a more experienced angler, took on the role of fishing coach. “A lot of people would come up to us and say, ‘Isn’t fishing just luck?’ ” Kellermeier says. “We would have to explain all the preparation and research that goes into it.”
As the club grew, Moe got members involved with the Student Angler Federation (SAF), a national organization for high school fishermen. Through the SAF, the group took the step from fishing club to fishing team in 2012. Mere semantics to most, the change was a sign to Moe and Kellermeier that they had achieved their goal.
The status as an official team coincided with the arrival of team member Nick Montilino. A year younger, Montilino was coming off a fishing state championship as a freshman. He teamed with Kellermeier and the pair began competing in fishing tournaments together.
“No youth has had the kind of career Nick has,” Montilino’s father, Martin, says. “I’ve been on the boat when Nick will catch 10 fish and nobody else will catch anything.” The combination of Montilino and Kellermeier, who has been fishing since his grandpa handed him a tackle box when he was 2 years old, made for a formidable duo.
Following the 2012-13 school year, the pair began practicing every day for the state tournament. They spent hours searching Lake Waconia, the state tournament site, hunting for the best spot to cast a line.
Their hours of research paid off when they caught more than 18 pounds of bass, securing a state championship. It was a victory not only for the pair, but for the Edina Fishing Team as a whole.
A less accomplished fisherman by his own description, Moe watched his teammates bring home a championship title. The team was never about competition, he says, and both Kellermeier and Montilino say the same to this day. The championship was another step to legitimizing their favorite sport among students, but the team was, and still is, all about fishing for fun.
Now in its fourth year, the team lives on. Kellermeier and Moe have graduated and taken their talents and passion to the next level. Kellermeier is on the fishing team at Bemidji State and Moe studies at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Team leadership has been handed down to the next generation. Montilino took over the coaching role Kellermeier vacated, and Moe’s younger brother William moved into the business manager role.
William Moe plans to bring the club into the future. More championships may lie ahead, but the team’s legacy will always be about a love of fishing—a legacy built by friends and fishermen.