But at Echuca Specialist School in rural Victoria, this simply means there is some authentic learning going on.
Lucas Denton launched a senior fishing elective at the school this year, as an offshoot from a very popular bush program which began in 2017.
Denton says while the group have only managed to reel in a silver perch and a European carp so far, there’s plenty more happening when the fish aren’t biting.
“A lot of it at the moment is about being organised enough to get out there and knowing what’s involved in getting organised for a fishing trip,” Denton explains.
“So it’s more than just going out there and throwing a line in, it’s working out what sort of bait we need, how much bait we need, [students] need to be able to tie knots and rig up fishing gear with sinkers and hooks and [they’re] learning about different types of lures and all that sort of stuff.”
There’s a range of different fishing abilities in the group of nine students, which also allows those who really know their stuff to develop leadership skills while helping others.
Denton admits the classroom, in a traditional sense, doesn’t always suit his students.
So with an opportunity to get outside and learn some different skills, most are thriving.
“So far we’ve seen some really big improvements in some of the students’ behaviour and also the relationships between the different students,” he reports.
In the classroom, Denton is taking full advantage of his students’ newfound passion.
“I know in my classroom I’ve got three students who are in the program and I can structure activities that can fit around this.
“For example, in literacy where we’re working on informative text, I can get them to have a look at different websites that might have information about bait or lures for different sorts of fish and what sort of gear you might need, and how different sorts of fish might differ [in] what they eat…
“Students can sometimes be a bit reluctant to read, but when they’re doing it for a purpose that they feel is meaningful, they don’t really notice that they’re actually doing it for a learning purpose,” he says.
Denton has also observed encouraging signs outside of class.
“I’ve noticed the students have just built that social base in the yard as well, so they share interests that they didn’t know they had before, and they can definitely build new social webs,” he says.
As the program continues, the students are hopeful they will eventually snag an elusive Murray cod, but failing that, it seems their efforts certainly won’t be in vain.