‘Reel Life’ By Misty Wells
As we all sit back and take a look around for the next generation out on the water what do we see? I mostly see the tops of kid’s heads as they all look down at their tablets and phones. Most of the kids nowadays are involved in posting 300 selfies daily on their Instagram’s and Snapchats, but what are they posting, they don’t do anything but post? What can we do to make some changes in these kids’ lives, get them outside and engaged in Reel Life?
So, you may ask why fishing? So far, after taking over 2,000 foster kids fishing, I have never been with one child that did not laugh and have the best time of their lives catching their first fish. Fishing is such an even playing ground for anyone because you don’t have to be the fastest, strongest, smartest or even have any experience. We as adults also have to slow down and take the time to put a line in the water and take a kid fishing, but make sure to avoid some common mistakes that turn kids off to fishing.
First off, don’t wait until they are a certain age, if they can hold a small rod and reel take them out for a bit and get them started early. Kids have a short attention span especially if the fishing is slow, so be sure not to stay too long unless the kids don’t want to leave. Try and make their fishing experiences easy, don’t target hard to catch species, go for a species that offers a lot of action. You’re in luck, as size does not matter and remember their measure of success is different than ours, let them have fun no matter what they catch. I have been with kids that reel up a piece of the bottom and they laugh so hard and want a picture of their rockfish, make it fun. Do not be impatient; so what if they tangle the line, so what if they lose their bait a million times, that happens to me a lot more than I want to admit. Remember to teach them right away, as they are learning about safety and conservation, they are the future of our fisheries, they need to protect it. Give them a sense of accomplishment and ownership and explain why they are releasing that fish and why we leave our fishing spot better than we found it. Teach them to also tie a hook, bait a hook, net a fish and release a fish- don’t do everything for them, nobody likes that. I love it so much when I am with the foster kids and some of the kids that fished with me before, start to help the new kids, as it gives them self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
There are so many organizations and ways to take kids fishing. The easiest is if you have a kid or two, take them and let them bring a friend. I have a great non-profit that takes kids in group foster care fishing year-round called “A Reel Future”. Donate and volunteer with us. There are kids with special needs, kids in a single parent home, kids on the wrong path that need a positive diversion and kids looking for anything fun to do. It is not hard to find an organization that you can be a part of for a day, week, or all year long. I promise you this, you will get way more out of it than you give. I have taken over 2,000 kids fishing so far and I am not stopping anytime soon! Come join the “Reel Life” with me. www.areelfuture.com.
Misty Wells Host of “Let’s Take it Outside” TV show & National Radio show, Outdoor Pro –Writer & Adventure Tournament Director & Guide for Fishing & Hunting trips. Founder of “A Reel Future” a non-profit organization devoted to sharing knowledge & passion of fishing and the great outdoors to foster kids Statewide. Show info or be a guest go to www.mistywells.com