My fondest memories of my childhood are those spent fishing with my family. I’ll never forget fishing from the La Quinta Pier in Corpus Christi with a line, weight, and a hook through a knot hole in one of the deck boards when I was 5 years old and hooking a huge black drum. My big brother climbed over the side and down the supports to retrieve that fish for me. I was so excited!
I’m sure that most of us have those memories of somebody in our family or friends who paid the price by teaching us to fish. We need to be those people for the generations ahead of us. We need to get out there and share the love we have for fishing with others.
I recently came across a video of a contest that the folks at World Angling Outfitters in Key West, Florida shared. Here is what they had to say:
“The goal was to share the passion for fly fishing with the next generation of anglers out there. The World Angling Facebook photo contest winner for 2013 was Will Griffiths, a shop rat from the Pacific Northwest. He had never thrown a 10 weight in salt before stepping on the bow of my skiff. One thing was made very apparent in the 3 days that we had together on the flats here in Key West, that there is no denying the young guys are here to stay. It was obvious the passion that Will had for the sport and the Gods clearly favored him. Featuring an original soundtrack from Miguel Perez, Knockin On The Door is the story of Will Griffiths and the rise of a generation in the sport.”
Here is the video: http://vimeo.com/100045538
Seeing that video opened my eyes to the fact that we need to wake up and start paying it forward and opening the eyes of the next generation to the joys of the sport we love.
Being an Angler Education Instructor and an Area Chief for Texas Parks and Wildlife gave me access to some alarming numbers pertaining to sales of fishing licenses in the state of Texas over the last two years. In 2013 Texas sold 7,372,581 freshwater fishing licenses and 2,040,764 saltwater fishing licenses. In 2014 those numbers dropped to 5,550,817 for freshwater licenses and 1,409,554 for saltwater licenses.
Those figures make me very sad. We need to get more folks out and on the water.
How do we do that, you ask?
I think that we need to become better mentors. We need to involve ourselves in programs that promote fishing in our communities.
Most states have angler education programs that you can volunteer to be a part of. Texas has volunteer Angler Ed Instructors through Texas Parks and Wildlife. An Instructor takes a 4 hour course that covers the basic course of study as well as the paperwork required for reporting. Then the Instructor is placed in a database that sends them notifications regarding volunteer opportunities in their area.
Another way to volunteer is through Heroes on the Water. HOW has chapters throughout the US that serve our Nation’s warriors by providing healing and rehabilitating kayak fishing outing that are physically and mentally therapeutic through their nationwide community of volunteers and donors.
Kayak fishing clubs and organizations are also great ways to get involved and share what we know and love.
This is the mission statement of our club:
“The Mariner Sails Kayak Fishing Club exists to share a common love for kayaking, fishing and the outdoors in a fun and friendly atmosphere. We exchange information on safety, paddling experiences and other kayak fishing related subjects. We support outreach and fundraising efforts for worthy charitable organizations related to the sport of kayak fishing. Our club is open to all who would like to participate in this sport. We are active all year, both on the water and at our meetings with various programs and guest speakers.”
Be an Ambassador; most kayak dealers are open to the idea of having a team of kayak fishing ambassadors to help promote the sport of kayak fishing in their marketplace. Hook up (no pun intended) with your local dealer and go to their demo day events, boat shows, and other events and represent kayak fishing. You’ll be amazed at the folks that would rather talk with the fisherman than the salesman.
If we all just took one day a month to share the sport we love with a friend, a family member, or maybe a co-worker we would be amazed at the results.
Somebody did it for us; we need to do it for somebody else.
Are you willing to pay it forward?