CADILLAC — The fried blue gill was really, really tasty.

Caught this summer and fall, Norm Smith provided the fish for a recent fish fry at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center.

Francis Majszak used his recipe to fry up the pan fish and served it to several area sportsmen-turned-instructors, as well as Carl T. Johnson staff, volunteers and guests.

Ed Shaw, interpreter at the center, invited them there to thank them for their work and prepare them for the 2019 Outdoor Skills Academy season.

It’s not too often that they can all be in one spot, Shaw explained.

New Outdoor Skills Academy classes in 2019 include a class to teach hunters how to hunt “naturally‘ because baiting and feeding deer will be banned as of Jan. 31, Shaw said.

And the academy may add a cooking class this summer, which could range from learning how to ace a good fish fry to learning how to cook up other game species.

Before the summer though, the Outdoor Skills Academy instructors will get you through the ice fishing season.

Most people who attend the ice fishing workshops are beginning to intermediate anglers, explained John Zakrajsek, a seasonal interpreter for the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center who Outdoor Skills Academy students will encounter when learning how to fish with tip-ups.

“Our goal is to shorten their learning curve,‘ Zakrajsek said.

“Michigan’s full of great opportunities for fishing,‘ said Steve Barry of LeRoy, who teaches the use of electronics for ice fishing and also touches on walleye fishing through the ice.

Barry praised his fellow Outdoor Skills Academy instructors.

“The group of people that Ed (Shaw) has assembled and the knowledge they have is probably second-to-none,‘ Barry said. People would and do pay hundreds of dollars for the education you can get for a lot less if you take an Outdoor Skills Academy class, he said.

Outdoor Skills Academy ice fishing workshops this winter could start around the end of January, Shaw said. But right now, the academy has scheduled “Hard Water Schools‘ for Feb. 9-10 and 23-24.

Keep up with the academy’s schedule by visiting michigan.gov and searching for “outdoor skills academy.‘