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.