I still remember the day I got my first fishing pole. It was a white Shakespeare WonderRod with a closed faced Zebco 202 reel.
Unlike the bike I rode at the time, my first fishing rod was not a "hand me down" item. It was a birthday present and it was brand new. I spent as much time practice casting in the backyard as I did on the river.
Currently, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, there are more than 50 million active anglers in the United States.
The vast majority of active anglers claim they learned to fish because "someone" once took the time to introduce them to the sport. Typically, it was a father, uncle or grandfather that provided this introduction. However, in recent years there have been some dramatic shifts in American society. Today, nearly 50 percent of American children are raised in a single parent family. In 2008, our society passed another threshold as more children were born to an unwed mother than to wedded couples.
Nearly 67 percent of all anglers claim that "Dad" took them on their first fishing trip. If "Dad" has a diminishing role in introducing new anglers today, and others don't step in to fill the void, how will the sport of angling be passed to future generations? The gift of fishing is still something special and those who don't fish may never know what they have missed, unless those of us who fish take the opportunity to share it.
Fishing with children: Do it now
Recreational boating and fishing rank high among America's favorite sporting activities. More people fish than play golf and tennis combined. The surest way to ensure longevity of the sport is by increased public awareness. Children that become committed anglers quickly develop an awareness and appreciation of the need for protecting, conserving and restoring America's aquatic natural resources.