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HOOKED ON EAST TEXAS: Tyler ISD teacher runs successful YouTube fishing channel

Tyler ISD teacher Caleb Hensley teaches fishing techniques on his YouTube Channel, 903 Fishing which has more than 62,000 subscribers.

TYLER, Texas — An East Texas teacher is the man behind one of the fastest growing digital fishing footprints in the country.

When COVID shut down schools in March 2020, Tyler ISD teacher Caleb Hensley bought a GoPro and created his YouTube Channel: 903 Fishing.

“I had one video that did pretty well, in about a month it got about 60,000 views on YouTube. So that kind of put 903 Fishing in East Texas on the map," Hensley said as we headed out to a brush pile to catch Crappie.

The digital world of fishing is exploding. With a GoPro and a cell phone, teaching fishing techniques is growing in popularity. Hensley has seen his YouTube subscribers grow from zero to nearly 62,000 today.

“We're about 15,000 followers on Facebook, on Tik Tok we're about 80,000 followers, and then Instagram we're almost at 10,000,” Hensley said.

All those eyeballs watching his videos add up to money. YouTubers get paid 18 cents for every 1,000 views. FinanceBuzz.com says an average YouTube creator can pull down more than 1,000 bucks a week.

Hensley didn't share how much he makes but he says he’s not ready to give up his day job at Peete Elementary in Tyler.

“It'd be very difficult to leave my kids over there," Hensley said. "I'm a teacher at heart. But you know, I'm teaching on this YouTube. Teaching elementary PE and it's just, it would just be hard to stop.”

Even when school isn't in session, this teacher at heart has a lesson plan for the lake.

“So right now it's summer, it's hot. So, these crappies are on deep brush piles. So, I may go over how to find brush piles on the fish finder," Hensley explained. "The best bait to use for these crappies on these brush tops. And I just want to stay relevant."

Staying relevant means fishing for creeks in winter or banks in the spring. He offers tips on kayak fishing. Hensley hopes a wider appeal leads to his goal of 100,000 YouTube subscribers. But regardless of the numbers, it’s about teaching.

“It's when somebody comments, you know, 'hey, I use your technique and I've been catching more crappie' and you know that right there lets me know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing," Hensley said.

He didn’t know 903 Fishing would catch on like it has. School starts soon but he’ll keep creating content and whether it’s Lake Palestine or Lake Tyler, he knows he’s in the right place for future success.

“I love Texas. I've always loved Texas. East Texas has a lot of good fishing around here," Hensley said. "And I think a lot of people are missing out. So, hopefully all my videos (that) they're seeing the good fishing around here. And that helps them get out and try to catch fish."

For the record, Hensley and I spent about three hours fishing. He caught a dozen crappies, and I caught one. Guess, I need to start watching his YouTube channel for tips.

If you want to watch some of Hensley's videos, visit his YouTube channel here.

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