Don't believe the propaganda. Taking a group of kids and teachingthem to fish is not akin to herding cats, even if these cats arearmed with long poles that are swinging sharp hooks. Teaching kids to fish is not part of an evil plot hatched by cabalof pharmaceutical companies in order to enhance the sale ofanti-stress medications. It's also not a subtle form of torture, banned by the GenevaConventions. Those who engage in this seemingly risky recreational activity on aregular basis would argue to the contrary. |
Teaching kids to fish isreally doing the Lord's work -- remember, a few of the apostleswere fishermen. While neither noble or foolhardy, giving kids the keys to thetackle box can be extremely rewarding -- for both the fishingprofessor and the journeyman who is angling for a lesson in thisart form that likely dates back some 50,000 years. Yes, it's beenaround longer than X-Box, PlayStation, and Nintendo, combined. The all-volunteer corps that instructs kids in the basics offishing opens the portal to the outdoors and provides a foundationfor what can be a lifetime of access to a fun and food fraternity.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife offers free seminars for adults,groups or conservation clubs that want to receive the propertraining and background to become certified fishing instructors.There will be a session to train these mentors on Oct. 27 from 9a.m. to 4 p.m. at the District 2 office in Findlay. You might come in the door wondering if you should have firstupdated your will before attempting to teach a group of kids tofish, but you leave a few hours later anxious to spread the gospelof good fishing.
"It can really be a wonderfully rewarding experience," said PeggyCoutcher, a certified instructor who runs the Toledo Zoo's summerfishing programs. "You get to see these kids go from knowingnothing at all about fishing, or how to bait a hook or how to casttheir line, to where just a short time later, they think they cando it all. That's a big plus for me." Ohio's fishing instructors are not asked to wade in too deep. Youwon't have to learn and then convey the roll cast with a fly rod intight quarters, or master the art of rigging ballyhoo for marlinfishing. It's just the basics.
Kids usually get a quick primer on the importance of good habitatto fish and clean waters for all of us. They learn how to rig theirfishing pole, how to cast, tie a good fishing knot, and how tohandle and safely release that fish. Instructors are given a lot of leeway to customize their classes tobest serve the age of the kids in their group, and to cover themost popular and accessible types of fishing in their area. Smalldoses of safety and fishing etiquette are often included, alongwith some important conservation tips. The idea is to get kids fishing close to home, and let them explorethe world from a fisherman's sight line for the rest of theirlives.
"There are a lot of benefits from teaching kids how to fish, andhow to be good fishermen," Coutcher said. "Plus, if they arefishing, then that means they are outdoors, where they should be." Coutcher has schooled well over 100 kids through the zoo program,while some of us count our Passport graduates in the dozens. After you complete the one-day course, pass the mandatorybackground check and become a certified fishing instructor, youwill have access to the resources you need to nurture younganglers. The Passport program assists you with a writtencurriculum, teaching aids, brochures, equipment, and thepossibility of grants for special projects.
"The 'train the trainer' concept lets us reach so many more kids,"said Nick Jamison, aquatic education coordinator for the Divisionof Wildlife. "We are reaching a lot of people." Jamison said more than 400 fishing instructors have been trainedsince 2010, and in just the last fiscal year, more 8,000 younganglers went through the Passport to Fishing program. Passport to Fishing is the creation of the U.S. Fish & WildlifeService and has been shepherded by the Recreational Boating andFishing Foundation.
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