When Jacob ’24 discovered that his new Ethnic Studies teacher, Mark Aquino, shared his love for fishing, the two began plotting: how could they pursue their common interest and spread that joy to others? They envisioned creating a club at Menlo where students could come together, get outside, and maybe even reel in a few fish.
“I thought it would be great to start a fishing club here because I knew there was probably a community out there and I wanted to make sure they had a space to come and learn,” says Aquino. “Usually what I find is that there are a lot of students that want to get into fishing but cost might be an issue or they need somebody to learn from.”
Aquino didn’t discover the joy of fishing until about five years ago, and is essentially self-taught. He wanted to make his own journey available to others along with the opportunity to learn about the environment and enjoy the great outdoors.
Jacob and his sister, Josie ’26, convinced a few friends to join them for the Menlo Fishing Club’s first meeting on a Thursday at lunch. Many were brand new to the sport. The students learned how to make their own poke poles out of Daiso gardening stakes, wire clothes hangers, and electrical tape. They were “hooked,” and it was time to start planning their first adventure.
On a beautiful fall Sunday in November, a group of 12 students met Mr. Aquino at the jetty in Half Moon Bay, DIY fishing poles in tow. They learned the importance of reading tide tables: while the area was a perfect sand flat during their visit, during high tide they would have been met with impassable neck-high level water.
Students skittered along the rocks like sand crabs, smiling as they dipped their DIY poke poles into the mini tidepools that filled in the gaps. “You need a lot of patience for fishing,” Mari Martinez-Luna ’25 shared. “It’s teaching me to be patient.”
With squid for bait, the crew landed three monkeyface prickleback eels and a rock crab, and attracted many more bites. But that, as it turns out, wasn’t really the whole point. “It was my first time fishing, and it was really fun to do something other than the technology that we’ve surrounded ourselves with, and to be able to go out and be one with nature with all your friends,” said Desiree ’24.
The following Monday, Mr. Aquino and Jacob prepared fish tacos with the club’s catch, surrounded by a throng of hungry students. Their smiles were contagious and prideful—the well-earned marks of a nascent idea realized.
Waiting in line for a taco, Amina ’25 recalls her first time fishing with her uncle. “It was more of a bonding moment rather than just focusing on fishing, so I feel like fishing does bring community and I feel like that’s what this club is all about,” she says.