The anticipation of my father coming home from work, knowing we would be setting off on another new adventure together on the streams of Centre County Pennsylvania, is something I will cherish forever. Looking back on my life, these most amazing experiences are among my fondest childhood memories. The love of the outdoors has brought me such great pleasure over the years, as does the opportunity to share my passion with others, particularly, when it comes to introducing a child to the love of the outdoors and developing their interest in, and a passion for, fly fishing.
Interestingly, however, it appears that today’s youth is missing out on experiencing these amazing wonders. From an early age, children are introduced to sedentary, indoor activities that allow them to escape into a digital world of video games, TV and texting friends. Experiencing their external environment, the great outdoors, and activities such as sport fishing, is a glaring contrast, to say the least.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all pass on the great gift of fishing to our children—igniting a life-long passion, and creating many fond memories along the way? In turn, they would then pass it down to future generations.
We live in a complicated world, but fishing is one thing that doesn’t have to be complicated. Expensive equipment is not mandatory, as top of the line rods are not built for the beginner. All that’s needed is something to get them started and out on the stream. Many fly fishing equipment manufacturers have starter kits that cost slightly more than a dinner and a movie.
Most people associate fishing with dropping a line in the water and sitting around for hours waiting for a bite—not the case for fly fishing streams. Constant motion and technique is required, eliminating the epidemic of boredom. This aspect draws kids into the sport when given the opportunity, because they are very much inclined to gravitate to activities that offer lots of action and instant gratification. While fly fishing doesn’t always produce a fish right from the start, the challenges of the stream are more than enough to capture their attention, and eventually, the exhilarating experience of catching that first fish will come.
Parents, family members, and members of our communities can make a big difference in the lives of our children, by introducing them, encouraging them, and teaching them how to fish—not only fly fishing, but any type of fishing. At the very least, it is a great first step to get our kids outside, allowing them to discover the great outdoors.
Although many adults focus on teaching the conservation of our environment, which is extremely important, few focus on the conservation of our sport. It is our responsibility to expose our children to this marvelous sport to enjoy for a lifetime and carry on this great tradition. To enjoy the sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel of the tug, and the satisfaction of the release. These senses and feelings cannot be found or felt on a Wii, but only through nature and all its beauty. Today’s youth need to understand they are the future of our rivers, streams, and fisheries.