Along with tips on fishing this river and the creeks that feed into it, Drew and others talk about how we can get kids hooked on kayak fishing.
Make It Easy for Kids to Get on the Water
In this episode, Steven Patrick, the founder of Southeastern Youth Kayak Fishing, shares how they get kids out on the water and in the outdoors with their parents. He suggests ways you can do this, too:
- Host a fishing event for kids at a local waterway.
- Host a fishing tackle giveaway. “Give kids the things they need to get out on the water. Many kids aren’t able to participate because they don’t have the equipment they need.”
Plug Kids Into Local Conservation Efforts
Steven and his team work through 4H clubs to get kids fishing, but they don’t stop there. They work with the kids to get involved in related community service. They’ve partnered with their state DNR to track and tag fish species, and to clip fin samples for genetic testing.
“Through the kayak tournaments and through the 4H clubs, we connect kids to the local issues and community involvement. Then they’re brought right into already setting up a Master’s thesis someday where they’re excited about college, they’re excited about making good grades, they’re excited about science. That’s something that really gets me going when it comes to working with kids.”
Connect Fishing with Real Life
We often think of recreational activities like fishing as a way to escape “real” life. But Drew does the opposite with the kids he talks to.
He points out to them the kinds of things they learn through kayak fishing—patience, perseverance, diligence, paying attention to details, being thorough.
These are all “good lessons you can learn on the river that follow you into life. It’s so cool to see their smiling faces, overcoming challenges and obstacles in the water.”
For those kids who want to, Drew encourages them to consider a career in kayak fishing.
“Fortunately for me, I had a Dad that was able to share with me so much of his passion for the outdoors with me.
“When I grew up there wasn’t a Pro Kayak Fisherman booth at the high school career fair next to the doctor and lawyer booths! But it’s a possibility today for these kids. You definitely have to think outside of the box.”
Here are a couple more very practical tips from Drew, exclusively for Bending Branches’ readers. First, on gear choice:
“The instinct when getting kids into kayak fishing is typically to buy the least expensive gear as possible, just in case they don't like the activity. However, you may be hurting their chances to actually enjoy the activity if you do so. I recommend getting them at least some mid-range rods, reels, kayak, paddle etc, so they have the best chance to enjoy this great past time.”
Second, on paddling:
“Often, when children are real young or if they're just getting into a kayak, it may be wise to start them out in a tandem kayak with you. This way they can focus on the fishing aspect, and you can do the paddling to control the kayak. Kids get frustrated easily, so this lessens the chances they'll get frustrated and give up, and it increases the chances they'll hook up with a fish and get hooked for life!”
Watch the full episode of Hooked on Wild Waters:
(photos courtesy of Drew Gregory)
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