When a counselor conducting the Individualized Education Program for Robbie “Goose” Henderson asked what his goals were, he said, “Fishing and technique.”
Fishing makes sense for autistic anglers. Henderson, a freshman at Lake Zurich High School, is ranked sixth nationally among junior anglers on the National Bass Fishing Trail and is headed for the National Championships in June at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
Of course, “so he could engineer the bait”.
He plans to carve the bait and has spoken to the people who paint the bait.
He has his own Pumpkin Goose Swamp, some sort of orange, blue and silver motor oil with black flakes.
“I love the bright colors on the crank bait,” says Goose. “Topwaters, I don't care.”
Fishing on the water is his favorite style of fishing, but he is adept at all forms of fishing, slow to fast.
About the nickname.
“When I was young, my uncle said I was as silly as a goose,” said Goose.
“And it stuck with him,” said his father Jeff.
Geese said his father started fishing for him when he was 3 years old.
“I grew up fishing with grandpa,” says Jeff. “When he died, I lost interest in fishing. Met my wife (Lisa) and her whole family fishing.
While Goose was on his way, Jeff contacted Zebco and programmed his first reel.
“We came back from vacation and Zebco had delivered before he was even born,” said Jeff. “I hung it in his room. We still have it downstairs on the wall.
Asked about autism, Goose said, “Just a part of me. Yes. I want to inspire people not to quit.”
“Just because you have a disability, you can overcome a lot of things,” said Jeff.
Swan, who is on the high end of the autism spectrum, was diagnosed in sixth grade. Jeff said when Goose was young, the teachers noticed something was different and suggested testing. ADHD retested and medication prescribed. But one teacher strongly recommends testing for autism.
“The doctor gave him a series of tests, about 16 hours,” said Jeff. “On Christmas break, we took off all of his (ADHD) meds.
“He has come to terms with it. He understood and knew who it was. If someone asks about it, he talks about it. That's him.”
Asked where he sees himself in 10 years, Goose said, “Bass fishing.”
Specifically, Major League Fishing, as he put it, “I want to go with the top anglers.”
When Goose decides to try tournament fishing, Jeff asks Violet Talley, a photographer/designer and tournament bass fisherman. He suggested the NBT Junior Program because it was less violent. Talley is the adult boat driver in the Goose's first pairs tournament.
In the tournament, the Geese fish with an adult captain.
“I sat down and took the video and talked to the guy,” said Jeff.
This year, he acquired a bass boat in 1992, currently in Mississippi, where work is being carried out by sponsor, PTG Outdoors.
“It would be wrapped in an autistic puzzle piece,” said Jeff.
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That's just right.
There is a fundraiser for the cost of going to and at the Nationals set for 5-9 pm April 29th at Musky Tales in Antioch. It's $10 a person, which includes a stable building raffle, entry, and a buffet (it's a cash bar). The top draw item is a two day stay at a BnB in New Orleans. Word just came in that Steve Trout would be attending. He knows a walleye pro who brought Goose to regional.
Contact Jeff Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org about tickets or with a raffle donation.