Getting Kids Fishing in 2012

First of all a Happy New Year!  Let’s hope that despite the never ending doom peddled by the media that we can enjoy the coming months with a little assistance from this fine sport that we all know and love.  I have some positive thoughts which I will share with you in a moment but for just one second I have a major concern.

Children, kids, young people.  There are not enough of them fishing.  I had to make the unfortunate journey to a Toys R Us just recently with my own children to spend vouchers given to them for Christmas.  While there are some very cool toys available (after all we men are just big kids … bring on the Scalextrics!!!), I just could not believe how many parents were buying their “toddlers” computer games.  OK I guess we cannot blame computer games entirely for the lack of children taking up fishing, but I bet it is having an effect.  Younger parents in particular will have grown up in this world of technology, so if they think it’s normal to sit in front of a screen blasting the latest alien to kingdom come; what hope do their children have?
OK, I am not saying anything new here.  I think the pleasure fishing industry is acutely aware that we have a problem.  Or are there plenty of kids out there fishing?  Am I wrong … I hope so.  Cost is of course a factor, but computer games are not cheap and surely the educational/health benefits are mighty insignificant compared to fishing or many other outdoor pursuits for that matter.  I guess another important point is that those of us lucky enough to live life in the countryside have far more access to a variety of fishing venues.  So why don’t we see more kids out on the piers, chucking a line into a lake or stalking the edges of a river around here?  Enough of the negative vibes, this year I pledge to try and find new ways to help get more youngsters into fishing.
On a very positive note I have come across a couple of things recently that are a step in the right direction.  The first is perhaps not directly linked, but bear with me.  Octonauts are a set of childrens books following the adventures of 8 animals who explore the ocean from their Octopod in search of adventure and fun.  My son (5 years old) is absolutely besotted with characters such as Captain Barnacles and Professor Inkling Octopus, using his Toys R Us vouchers to begin his Octonauts collection.  We have heard of nothing since!  There is also a magazine and an interactive website.  I know this means children will now be sat in front of a monitor, but at least rescuing fish (there are several missions!) has a purpose and a hidden message.  It starts the whole conservation ball rolling.  My first memory of the underwater world was Jacques Cousteau followed by an obsession for Sharks inspired by the film Jaws.  I wonder if my lad will be excited in the same way by the Octonauts.
I came across my second positive vibe for 2012 quite by accident while researching online.  An American initiative, Trout Unlimited Stream Explorers seeks to introduce young people to fishing through an interactive website and quarterly printed magazine.  The use of colourful graphics will no doubt appeal to young eyes, while the layout, styling and language has been well thought out.  At $12 this seems like great value for money, although it is worth noting that the magazine is only available for children over the age of 13.
What surprises me is the lack of sponsorship for the site by major manufacturers.  Of course we all need to do our bit but surely the organisations who design and sell tackle should be marketing their products in a manner that will appeal to parents and their children.  If opportunities are not taken now then could we be destined for a world where more people take part in virtual fishing on a games console than actually take part for real?  During the course of the year I will look out for anything that I can find which may help you to introduce your son, daughter, niece, nephew, younger siblings or god children to the world of fishing and of course if you know of a worthwhile initiative or event this side of the pond please drop me a line and I will add it to the blog.
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4 Responses to Getting Kids Fishing in 2012

  1. hi Nick,
                 totally agree my two boys go to nearly all my shooting days with me and daniel is always with me fly fishing. We have been very lucky to have some top class tuition in yourself, iain barr and phil dixon. To encourage children i think one of the ways it could be done is to have famiyl days where the family can buy a day ticket  and keep 4/5 trout enough for one each if we can encourage fathers and indeed mothers the children will follow. another thought when daniel took up shooting my local gunshop sold me his first shotgun at cost price, his theory being  once he has a shotgun he will need cartridges, clothing and  accessories  for a long time to come this has rung so true as i cannot guess how much i have spent in that shop. many of my local fisheries charge daniel the same as me. Hanningfield  res allow daniel to fish on my ticket and this is one of the main reasons why i go there as i would not be able to afford it otherwise. cheers and good luck in your quest 

    nigel tranter | January 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  2. Hi Nick
    Changing times are partly to blame for our predicament. I was blessed enough to grow up in the seventies and spent most of my spare time on a local pond about ten minutes walk through the woods from our house. my mother would bring my tea down for me if i hadnt come home. No mobile phones or computer games then. But how many of us now would be happy for our children to wander off fishing for the day? unless accompanied.
    All three of my kids (3,7,9) come digging with me and have competitions to see who can pick up the biggest worm or salt the most razors.
    The eldest lad comes fishing frequently but I ensure that he always asks to come rather than me suggesting it to him. I also make sure that it will be a shorter session spinning for pollack, mackerel or bass rather than the longhaul wait for tope or rays. If I can make it exciting for him and he doesnt get cold or bored I am sure it will be able to compete with sitting in front of Mariocart

    Baitdigger | January 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  3. Baitdigger it sounds like your children will be enjoying their childhood as much as I did, by the waterside.  But I agree, is it safe to leave them to go fishing on their own these days?  Nigel, thanks for your comment and kind words, it has always been a pleasure to look after you and Danny.  Really satisfying to see him improving each year.  Your ideas regarding how to introduce children to fishing while keeping the costs low are very valid.  We offer a father & son ticket here for children up to the age of 14, it has to be the way to go.

    nickhart | January 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Reply
    Hi Nick
    I am the newly-appointed Junior Liaison Officer of the Cotswold Flyfishers. The Committee has given me the task of attracting children and young adults (under the age of 18) in the Cotswolds area into flyfishing and has opened up its waters (30+ miles of Cotswold streams and rivers, and four lakes) for free fishing for juniors, when accompanied by a member.
    Please add these details to your blog, for any junior who would like to take up, or improve, their flyfishing. Also, any pointers that you or your contacts could give me about running such a scheme would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards

    NIgel Hudson | February 13, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply

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