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How to get young people fishing?

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A friend of mine is a PA Waterways Conservation Officer (Guppy Cop). We were talking last weekend and he told me that the trend in the US is less people fishing and even less people under the age of 25 fishing. He told me that if trends continue there will be less money spent on conservation and less enforcement of fishing and boating laws. He volunteers to teach young people in urban areas to fish and even buses kids from the city to rural areas to get an opportunity to fish. But he says that less and less kids are taking advantage of the program. So I was wondering if any forum members have any ideas on how to get more kids outdoors and into fishing? Lets hear your suggestions. 

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Start them young.

Little ones just want to catch fish, don't worry if it's not bass.

Keep the trips short, when their done, it's over.

Don't fish yourself, help them have some success.

Bring lots of goodies they like.

Bring lots of juices, and drinks kids like.

Don't get upset if they have an accident, things will happen!   Leave the expensive stuff home.

Keep everything simple, don't try to teach a 5 year old a baitcaster.

Life jackets always while in the boat, don't scare the crap out of them with your 300 Merc!

 

I learned most of this from practical experience.

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13 minutes ago, geo g said:

Start them young.

Little ones just want to catch fish, don't worry if it's not bass.

Keep the trips short, when their done, it's over.

Don't fish yourself, help them have some success.

Bring lots of goodies they like.

Bring lots of juices, and drinks kids like.

Don't get upset if they have an accident, things will happen.

Keep everything simple, don't try to teach a 5 year old a baitcaster.

Life jackets always while in the boat, don't scare the crap out of them with your 300 Merc!

 

I learned most of this from practical experience.

I agree with everything you said. 

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Imo you've either got the fishing bug or you don't.  It's easy to forget that fishing really doesn't appeal to very many people.   At least not on the level that hardcore anglers feel about it.  It's been my experience that it's actually a very rare thing to meet other serious anglers in your day to day life.  Just about all the ones I know I met through clubs and tournaments etc...

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My dad started me out fishing for bream and crappie when I was about 6 or 7. Most people don't think about doing that these days. Starting a kid out bass fishing can be rough if the fish aren't very active.

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Worms or crickets under a bobber at the piers. Maybe try to find a small county/city government owned pond that stocks it. 

 

See if any any docks, piers, marinas, have an automatic fish feeder set up. Almost always guaranteed nice sized panfish. 

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The attention span of young people has shortened dramatically since any of us were young.  There are a number of factors that play into this and I'm sure we can all list them.  My son is almost 16yrs old and I've been taking him fishing a few times a year since he was about 5yrs old.  I bought my first boat two years ago and he has less interest in going fishing on the boat with me than going to a nearby pond to bank fish.  Why?  Because the bank fishing will be much less time investment.  The closest lake for the boat is a very small one that's 30 minutes away.  I'm willing to drive there for only an hour on the water.  My main lakes are a hour away and I never drive there for less then four hours on the water.  Usually six or eight.  He gets bored.  We can drive somewhere and bank fish and be back in less than an hour. 

 

Is it because of TV/smartphones/video games?  I know that has something to do with the shortened attention span, but I also know he's 15yrs old so his life revolves around high school basketball, friends, girls, driving, etc.  I don't push him.  That will just make it less appealing to him.  But it's like an Xmas gift for me when he wants to go!

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Check out Minnesota's DNR R3 program,  it does a great job of outlining barriers that get people fishing.   Any interesting thought, don't teach kids, teach parents,  so the can go more often with kids

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Unfortunately, much of it is a family thing. Fishing runs deep in my blood. I love the fact that the high schools have fishing teams, but it should probably start much younger. Kids fishing derbys are almost non existent anymore because they cost too much money and they require kids to put down the video games. I'd really like the grammar schools or park districts to have an elective fishing program. At least get the kids introduced to the sport/hobby a an early age. 

 

For the past 2 years, I volunteer, along with my father and @cadman and his wife, for a program that introduces kids to the outdoors. It's one day a year and we teach kids ages from 5-15 how to cast. The program also introduces them to firearms, archery, and gun hunting among other things. 99% of the kids have never picked up a fishing rod, and they graduate from closed faced spincasting to spinning reels in 45 minutes. We even teach some of the parents. Unfortunately, these programs are far and few between and I cannot tell you how difficult it is to get people to give up one day of their lives to volunteer to help others.  

 

I have contemplated starting a "take a kid fishing" guide service, but feedback on numerous online forums makes me second guess the idea. 

 

I PM'd a member here this morning asking how old his boy was when he first took him on the boat. My boy was 15 when I bought my first boat, so that doesn't matter. My grandson is 18 months and infatuated with fish. He loves my trophy wall and was mesmerized at both the zoo and Shed Aquarium by the fish. I'm excited to take him out on the boat for his first go-around 

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I likely introduce a dozen children of elementary school age to fishing during an average year. One of my daughters is a teacher and her husband is a little league coach, so finding young ones that want to go fishing isn't difficult. The biggest difficulty I run into is the lack of their parent's interest in their new found pass time.  Why, because it involves a commitment of their own time and honestly, most parents only spend time doing things with their children when it suits them, or is one of their own interests. Some have actually told me that it is my responsibility to invest the time with their children as I was the one that introduced them.

Now I ask the parents if they'd like to accompany us on that initial outing. Some find it rewarding, some don't. You don't need to guess which kids remain interested for any length of time.

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It's not a easy problem to solve!

Too many single parents, mostly moms that have a lot of demands on their time and feel team sports like youth baseball or soccer is more important then fishing or camping.

I got involved with YMCA Indian Guide program about 25 years ago to get my son more time outdoors with his peers at age 6 to 8. The dads were more interested in playing cards and games then learning to fish. I would take groups of 6 kids shoreline fishing using my tackle with split shot rigs catching small bass and releasing them. The groups grew to the point where dads would bring their trout spinning tackle and started joining their kids on outings.The 3rd year we had about 100 kids and dads fishing each outing to lakes from shore.

The problem today is the young parents never learned to fish or camp outdoors so who is going to teach them? Who is going to get the young kids and their parents away from computer games?

Tom

 

 

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3 hours ago, BigAngus752 said:

The attention span of young people has shortened dramatically since any of us were young.  There are a number of factors that play into this and I'm sure we can all list them.  My son is almost 16yrs old and I've been taking him fishing a few times a year since he was about 5yrs old.  I bought my first boat two years ago and he has less interest in going fishing on the boat with me than going to a nearby pond to bank fish.  Why?  Because the bank fishing will be much less time investment.  The closest lake for the boat is a very small one that's 30 minutes away.  I'm willing to drive there for only an hour on the water.  My main lakes are a hour away and I never drive there for less then four hours on the water.  Usually six or eight.  He gets bored.  We can drive somewhere and bank fish and be back in less than an hour. 

 

Is it because of TV/smartphones/video games?  I know that has something to do with the shortened attention span, but I also know he's 15yrs old so his life revolves around high school basketball, friends, girls, driving, etc.  I don't push him.  That will just make it less appealing to him.  But it's like an Xmas gift for me when he wants to go!

This is exactly my situation.  My son is 22 and he started going fishing with me when he was 4-5 and we had some great days.  However, when the fish weren't constantly biting, he was throwing rocks or just going exploring and simply didn't have the attention span or desire to fish for any length of time.  He fishes a few times a year now and just tells me he knows it's my passion, but it's not his.

 

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We have the opposite problem around here. Way too many fishermen........

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My grandson showed little interest untill age 10. Became bored easy, didn't seem to care. At some point 2yres ago we got on some 1lb bass and he caught a bunch. At that point he was hooked! Now he's 15, and would like to organize a bass club at his high school. Sometimes it takes some time. He would rather go fishing than play video games. Video games took away much of what we did as youngsters. Bring it back

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My kid is 8 and loves to go fishing. If they are biting shes hooked. One day last year we went for 2hrs bluegill and even nailed a few nice size rock bass. But if they are not fishing, shes out in about 20-30 mins then she starts exploring and wondering around. She says she wants to start bass fishing but every time we go bluegill fishing with bobbers and worms all she does is get excited that the bobber went under the water and wont set the hook! Its hilarious and frustrating at the same time. I even took her to our local river in December of last year when it was 55 degrees here and tried walleye fishing from the banks around the bridge. Just tried to see if casting constantly would keep her attention. No such luck. She was more worried about floating softball in the water or the dogs running around. But every time we are by a body of water, shes always asking if there is fish and what kind. Shes in girl scouts and they are putting together a fishing day to take the kids. She even wants a kayak to go fishing in like i do.

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I think the important thing is to have them catch fish somewhat consistently starting out if they are young. That can just be bobber fishing for bluegill. My dad would take me bobber fishing all the time as a kid and I enjoyed it. I think the allure of it was just the "you never know what you're gonna catch" factor. That still sticks with me to this day. Catching bluegill was fun but throw in a 3lb bass every once in a while on an ultralight spincast rod and I was hooked. Although around when I started high school fishing started to become more of a passion rather than just a hobby, and I started focusing more on bass and learning as much as I could. I couldn't really tell you why though. 

 

Also, like it or not, social media (Instagram, YouTube, etc.) is probably the best way to reach kids. Look at the Googan Squad and how big they got on YouTube. I'm personally not a big fan of their videos but they have introduced fishing to tons of people. 

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Make a video game out of it.

 

A year ago there were some kids circling my neighborhood pond catching Pokémon on their phones.  I was in full view of them catching Bass!

 

Morale of the story, in todays world pixels beat fins and scales. Sad but true.

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Right now I am a high schooler and fish constantly. Over the summer it is like 5+ hours a day, every day.  For years I have invited people to go fishing and, while some of them kind of knew how, I pretty much thought them the basics of fishing.  But when we go out, we like to have fun.  I joke around, mess around, peg geese with frogs... and just have a good time.  I have gotten so many people into fishing, it isn't like they are as passionate as me about it but they start getting into it and really enjoy going.  Once I know someone is getting that fishing "bug" and it isn't a waste, I'll give them a cheep (yet decent) rod and a few lures.  I have given away some ugly sticks and a silver max (some others that I can't remember as well).  What I think it really comes down to is youth to invite other youth out.  If it is an adult, no offense, many youth think of it being awkward, weird, or boring.  What I do think adults can do is give youth fishing poles and talk to them about fishing, show them pictures of your latest catches and they will soon enough catch the bug.  Just my .02 from what I've seen with people around my age.

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In my opinion it is all about the age that one gets started. I am 19 now and have been obsessed for about the last 4-5 years. As a younger kid, I was always very interested, but had to rely on others to take me fishing which made it tough to get out sometimes. At some point in my early high school days a friend and his dad took me out with them on their bass boat and that's what really got me hooked. The next big thing for me personally was when I got my drivers license, from then on I no longer had to rely on others, and my trips to the lakes and ponds became almost daily. With that experience in mind I think that when trying to get young people interested in fishing a lot more success will be found targeting kids that are a little older and they can fully grasp the sport on their own. I even had a lot of success getting kids at my high school interested once they saw how much fun I was having, from then on I never had a problem finding a partner to take the jon boat out for a day.

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How to get young kids to do more fishing?  Good question.

 

Here are my suggestions:

1.  Since kids have the attention span of a knat, unless they are constantly catching something they will get board and start to think of other things and lose interest. So you have to take them where they can catch something on every cast.

 

2.  Sports, cars, girls/boys, money and friends will always be obstacles. If they play sports it is year round program for games, practice, conditioning and God forbid, travel teams. If they get interested in cars, hang it up.  Girls can also come into play. He or she will want to be with their "friend" on weekends and during the summer and fishing is not on their minds. Money! Once they start working after school and on weekends, plus summer time, they will want to earn their money in lieu of fishing to support the sports, cars, girls/boys and fun with friends.  And if their friends are not into fishing then they will not be interested in fishing. This has been going on for a long, long time.

 

3.  Tackle. Tackle is expensive. And the kids need to learn how to take of it properly. Not fun. The kids want to grab their rods and reels and some baits and head to the pond. When finished, they throw them in the garage for their parents to clean up as they run into the house to call their friends or play on the computer.

 

4.  Patience. Sometimes it is very difficult to take anyone bass fishing if you or they do not have the patience to enjoy the beauty of the sport. Seeing wildlife, the beautiful fall colors, landing a fish every few hours, and the experience of Mother Nature can be lost on a younger person. Getting up at 4  AM to drive an hour to the ramp to launch for 5 AM and they be on the water for 8 to 10 hours may not be what a youngster can withstand or a teenager can value. They would rather you take your bass boat, load it with you, your child, and the child's five or six best friends and do some skiing or tubing or rafting behind the boat.

 

5.  Afraid. Yes, some kids will be afraid to touch or hold a fish. Even a bluegill or a bream. You have to show them how to hold the fish and to watch for fins and hooks. If the fish wiggles and the child gets burned by a fin or hook, it is all over. Mommy, here we go. You tried to kill our son/daughter. And then if they don't use sunscreen and look like a lobster the next day, Mom will not be a happy camper. End of that story.

 

6. Safety. When I grew up in New Orleans we would head for the French Quarter on weekends and holidays with my friends and we had a blast. Of course, I also started fishing with my uncle on weekends when I was 14 and he took me to the New Orleans Athletic Club and taught me how to work out. I would take the bus to the NOAC with no thought of "strangers" approaching me. Today, it is not safe to allow your child to play in the front yard, so how are you going to get Momma to agree to let him/her walk or ride their bikes to the local pond? And you work so you can't go with them during the week. But they can stay after school and play sports; or you and Momma sit in the stands as they practice and play baseball/softball; or you take them to theme parks and other venues for a fun time. But you or your wife/girlfriend/etc. must go with them. Today, it is too dangerous to allow the child to go out and play as we did when we grew up, even out in the country.

 

What can you do?

Take the child to a local pond and fish for bluegills and bream.

Take the child to a local pond or river/lake and fish for catfish with hot dogs.

Take the child to a saltwater beach and using dead bait catch some croakers, spot, and other small saltwater fish.

Take the child on your boat for short excursions until they are ready for the big time.

Always make sure the child wears their baseball cap, sunglasses, long pants, long sleeve shirts, and sun screen.

Bring along candy and good snacks for the child to chomp on during the day without washing their hands.

Watch YouTube, DVDs and the TV about fishing and fishing shows.

Take the child to the Bassmaster Classic and have a great time.

Take the child's best friend with you when you go fishing at a local pond so both can enjoy the sport and have some friendly competition.

Have the child pick out a few pros they like, such as Ike, Hank Parker, Jimmy Houston, that Awbunn guy Jordan Lee, KVD, Ish, etc. and follow them on Facebook and on TV/Internet at tournaments. And try to meet them at the Classic when you go and get their autographs.

 

There are other things you can do to try to get them interested in fishing but in today's world there is just too much competition that absorbs the time and money away from future anglers. You may have to wait until they graduate high school, college, vo-tech school, or start working and before they get engaged or married to get them interested in the sport.

 

Once they have a girlfriend/boyfriend whose thoughts about a fun time are going to a movie and out for dinner, it is all over. Gone. Finished. Hang it up. Forget it. They have other things on their mind and it ain't bass fishing. :ok-wink:

With all this written, it is still a good idea to try to get the child interested in fishing. Just don't be too hard on them if they want to do other things. Its life. And that's the way it is.

 

Now please take a kid fishing.

 

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20 hours ago, geo g said:

Start them young.

Little ones just want to catch fish, don't worry if it's not bass.

Keep the trips short, when their done, it's over.

Don't fish yourself, help them have some success.

Bring lots of goodies they like.

Bring lots of juices, and drinks kids like.

Don't get upset if they have an accident, things will happen!   Leave the expensive stuff home.

Keep everything simple, don't try to teach a 5 year old a baitcaster.

Life jackets always while in the boat, don't scare the crap out of them with your 300 Merc!

 

I learned most of this from practical experience.

Bluegill, crappie and white bass.  

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1 hour ago, ratherbfishin1 said:

Right now I am a high schooler and fish constantly. Over the summer it is like 5+ hours a day, every day.  For years I have invited people to go fishing and, while some of them kind of knew how, I pretty much thought them the basics of fishing.  But when we go out, we like to have fun.  I joke around, mess around, peg geese with frogs... and just have a good time.  I have gotten so many people into fishing, it isn't like they are as passionate as me about it but they start getting into it and really enjoy going.  Once I know someone is getting that fishing "bug" and it isn't a waste, I'll give them a cheep (yet decent) rod and a few lures.  I have given away some ugly sticks and a silver max (some others that I can't remember as well).  What I think it really comes down to is youth to invite other youth out.  If it is an adult, no offense, many youth think of it being awkward, weird, or boring.  What I do think adults can do is give youth fishing poles and talk to them about fishing, show them pictures of your latest catches and they will soon enough catch the bug.  Just my .02 from what I've seen with people around my age.

That "bug" seems hard for people to catch IMO. I can take a good amount of friends fishing for the day as they just see it as a chance to be outdoors an hang out, and catching fish is fun. But the desire to go fish in 50° rain for 8 hours is a little harder to make them understand lol 😄

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You could got to local schools and put up flyers. But ask the office first and explain. 

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If I ask my kids what they liked about going fishing they both answered having breakfast on the way to lake. I always thought it was catching fish, the truth is they like getting ready and being out with their dad. Both my kids started fishing around age 5 by age 6 they knew how to fish but needed help rigging or baiting hooks, casting they mastered very quickly. If you do everything for them they will get bored or dissipointed there a lot of satisfaction in learning. If your child want to try something different let them, sometimes they surprise you. What I learned was catching fish was a bonus.

Tom

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Affordable access to a population of catch able fish !    My local city has a park like lake. Twenty years ago it had a significant population of Crappie, Blue gill and a smattering of bass.  A local civic club ran a kids day each year to catch stocked rainbows that were caught or died in a short period.  They pressured the city to kill off the lake of all species so the stocked trout could hopefully prosper.  They did not and a major  potential resource for kids was lost.  Sad. A base fishing license in Washington is near forty bucks.  

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