The sport of fishing, in order to stay alive, needs to have new blood in it. Without getting kids interested in fishing, whether it be just going down to the river to catch rough fish or competing in tournaments, the pastime of fishing will slowly fade away. Kids are the future of this sport, and you have to get them involved as early as possible.
Since I can remember I’ve always had a rod in my hand and have been fishing somewhere. While kids got videogames for Christmas, I got bait and tackle. Fishing is my life and the way I got started was through my father taking me out fishing every weekend and getting me involved in the C@R Youth Bass Fishing Club out of Watertown, Wisconsin. I have fished in this youth club since I was 10 years old, fishing weekday tournaments on local bodies of water in hopes of qualifying for the Wisconsin Youth State Tournament held every year. Winning this tournament gave you entry into the Junior World Tournament, which was Nationals for us, held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup. We had at least 15 kids in our club each year, and every year we had a youth win State and advance on to Nationals 9 times, the most out of any club in the state. From personal experience, winning state three times, it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to South Carolina twice and Atlanta, Georgia and fishing side by side the biggest names in professional bass fishing. Every kid should have the opportunity to walk across stage in front of a huge audience with fish and weigh in on TV and have that 15 seconds of fame.
The sport of bass fishing is doing a great job of getting kids involved with fishing through youth clubs, youth state and nationals, but how do we get older kids interested? The FLW in the past years have set up not only high school fishing, but also college fishing. Being a back-to-back high school state champ, I know first hand how incredible fishing in high school is. You get to spend time doing something you love, you get to represent your school, and if you win you go on to a regional tournament held somewhere down south. To be able to bring a state title to your school is something only a few people can say. Transitioning from high school to college may be tough, but there are fishing opportunities available. Being a member of the UW-Whitewater fishing team is truly a great experience. Having a brotherhood of guys who share the same passion for fishing as you is what it’s all about. Being a freshman, the older guys welcomed me with open arms and now we are primed to fish Kentucky Lake and do well in hopes of advancing to the College National Championship. Fishing is all about memories with friends and enjoying the great outdoors.
No one remembers their best day playing videogames, but one will always remember their best day of fishing. That’s why I fish, because you never know when your personal best catch will happen or when you win a tournament. Being involved in fishing, no matter what kind it may be, keeps kids focus and not doing bad things. Once you get kids hooked on fishing, they can’t stop doing it. Fishing is my greatest passion and it’s true what they say, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work!” Fishing has changed my life and I wish every kid could experience the true meaning of fishing. The sport of fishing can only go as far as the kids casting their lines in the water.