As I cast my fly, it is the summer of 2017 and many things are going on in the world beyond my pond.
One circumstance gives me joy and hope; are there more young people fishing?
Friends, neighbors, and some industry experts have mentioned the same observation. Moving past any debate and self-interest, I ask, because so many young people are fishing, what else is happening?
While they are studying the water to find fish, are young men and women breaking the pull of the flashing black screens? Are they learning the value of nature’s silence? While they are working to end a no fish day, are boys and girls leaving the entitlement culture? Are these strong individuals becoming self-reliance, developing true self esteem, and feeling safer away from the pseudo perfection of other activities? While they wander their neighborhoods and peruse online maps, are these outdoors people practicing direction-finding that might lead to a stronger understanding of the world? Are young anglers becoming fascinated by and protective of creation? Will they do better in school? And work? When they are with fellow anglers are they valuing true relationships?
The prolific angling author, Tom Rosenbauer recently mentioned the same observation, “I am optimistic because of all the young people, from high school age through college and beyond, getting into fly fishing.” If this movement is happening, our experiences, abilities, and resources can be used now for something bigger than our social media feeds.
While these young men and women are striking out on their own fishing adventures, they are watching us, so we must model good citizenship of their communities, and solid husbandry of their fisheries. With the sure knowledge that these young people will soon be raising their own little anglers, we should take motivation for catch and release fishing combined with take only pictures, leave only footprints outings.
Our safe driving should extend to neighborhood fishing holes. We are used to watching out for other vehicles around docks and ponds, but those kids walking and peddling come from different places.
Each of us can also encourage young anglers by taking them on trips. And maybe we have some equipment that might better go to them.
As anglers, we can agree that a brighter future will develop as each generation casts their lines next to us; let’s help that brighter future dawn. In the words of the gentlemanly conservationist Franc White, “Do yourself a favor, take a kid fishing.”