There is a lot of talk out there about how few kids, and young people in general, are not fishing these days. It’s true that I see very few youngsters fishing in local lakes and ponds, or on docks compared to when I was one of those kids – too many years ago. Certainly times have changed – society has changed. Riding my bike 10 miles to a promising fishing spot was never an issue, even at the age of 8 or 9. Neither was getting dropped off alone at Robert Moses at 6 a.m. and not getting picked up until 6 p.m. that evening. I’d spend all of that time casting and walking between the parking field and Democrat Point, often repeating the trek two and three times during that span. And I always caught fish – mostly small stripers, and most of them on a #3-1/2 Hopkins. These days, leaving an 8- or 9-year old alone without any adult supervision that far from home could result in a visit from Child Protective Services.
Well, I don’t know if things are changing or we just haven’t noticed, but I’m encountering more and more youngsters and young adults that display the same passion for fishing that I, and many of you readers probably felt at their age. I’m running into them in tackle shops, at fishing and outdoor shows, at seminars and while out fishing. They range from elementary school age to college age or recently graduated.
The young crew that mans the counter at J&J Tackle in Patchogue fishes hard, long and they know what they are talking about. These guys and others like them, give me confidence that the future of fishing in our area is in good hands. They will become the stewards of our marine environment, guardians of fishing access, and teachers of future generations of anglers.
Some of the most passionate young anglers are those involved in school fishing clubs. The best examples of that are the members of the Ward Melville High School Fishing Club. Under the guidance of teacher Bob Wilson, the club produces what has become one of the most popular fishing shows in the region. The students are fully involved in producing and working the show; setting up the show floor, providing assistance to vendors during move-in and move-out, and directing attendees to seminars. Club members participate in fishing trips and lectures by guest speakers from the recreational fishing community.
Sean Petretti, principal of Mattituck High School and an avid angler, has been involving some of his school’s students in friendly fishing competitions and is setting up fishing trips for students this spring. If you fish and teach at the junior high or high school level, how about giving some thought to sharing your passion for fishing with your students? We’d be willing to provide some guidance and assist in setting up fishing trips once the season gets going. Bob Wilson has already offered to share his experience in setting up a club with other educators looking to establish a fishing club in their school. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 631-730-4900.
And if you if haven’t experienced the Ward Melville High School Fishing Expo, mark Saturday, March 4 on your calendar. The show features over 120 fishing related vendors, continuous seminars, hands-on workshops, and tackle giveaways for youngsters.
There are thousands of dollars in raffle prizes, with all proceeds from the raffle going to the club for fishing trips, club projects and annual scholarships. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. and best of all, admission is free. For detailed information on the seminar schedule, raffles and a listing of vendors, go to www.wardmelvillefishingclub.com/2017expo.