The other day, several of us were sitting on the tailgate after an evening of fishing. We had one of those spectacular sunsets where there were lots of fish around and boy were they easy to catch. Ours was the kind of day that makes up for those times when the conditions aren’t right and we have to struggle. It was pure magic.
My friend brought up the results of a Field and Stream story that looked at the next generation of American anglers. The writer, Joe Cermele, wonders if fishing is becoming a lost sport. Rather than watch numbers go down the tubes, Cermele explores the groups that are doing something about increasing participation among our next crop of leaders. And the Take Me Fishing group gets high praise for helping to get folks and kids on the water. Outstanding!
Another pal referenced other state-of-the-union reports about the number of fishermen. This one was a doom-and-gloom overview of the loss of anglers to other activities. Kids were considered to have traded in rods for computer games, adults were said to prefer golf, and surfing was the hot “new” sport. Tell the Beach Boys and their 1960’s culture that surfing is a “new” sport and I bet you’d get a chuckle. Anyways, we looked around and aside from us we didn’t see another rod around. Hopefully those reports aren’t true.
Sometimes we pick apart reports but this time we came up with a different plan. We figured that if every American fisherman introduced one new person to our sport then our numbers would double. The problem would be solved. The reports would turn that frown upside down, and all would be well in the world.
Rather than get into the weeds on the details, we just got to work. Each of us had already taught our kids to fish so we didn’t count them. So one approach called to include their friends in our trips. That worked out really well, and for every four or five that we took out on the water maybe one or two really caught the bug. We saw the ranks start to grow.
There were others that had fished before and for whatever reason had slowed down or stopped. That was an easy fix as anglers are always motivated to try out new gear. I went down into my basement and found some tackle that I wasn’t using any longer. I gave one rod to one friend, a chest pack to another, and a bunch of spinners and spoons to the third. One young man already had a ton of gear so I gave him a bunch of old magazines. He read them from cover to cover but he wasn’t coming back. I had to noodle that one around for a bit.
I figured it out. I had a picture of him catching fish and I featured him several months ago on this very blog. That did it. He showed all of his friends on his smartphone and they were cranked up. I mentioned that I always need new pictures and if they were going fishing any time soon to give me a call and I’d swing by and snap a few images. I’ll be heading out in a few minutes to see what kind of trouble they’re getting into, and I hope they’re hooked up to a colossal largemouth bass.