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« | Main | Former Presidents, Legendary Anglers, Celebrities Help Celebrate Opening of Wonders of Wildlife Museum »

Better Bass Fishing Is About More Than The Know-How That You Accumulate; It's About What You Pass On

With the remaining hot dogs consumed, we spread out our sleeping bags and relaxed, ready to watch the meteor showers that were predicted for after midnight.

We talked about bass fishing and building fires and other “guy things” until the first fiery arrow streaked across the sky. The wattage of the moon probably stole much of the light show from us. But we counted a dozen or so before Ursa the Devil Dog cuddled up to Jesse. He put his head next to hers and both slept the sleep of the innocent.

As I watched for more of nature’s fireworks, I thought about another child, decades before, and how lucky he was to know generous adults who made the time to take him fishing.

My father didn’t fish, but a co-worker of his did, and he took me frequently to a farm pond. One fall day, a 3-pound bass exploded under my Hula Popper, a moment frozen in time that still causes my heart to pound when I recall it.

And there were others: A neighbor took me fishing in a boat for the first time. A family friend invited me along on an overnight camping and fishing trip. I’ve been fishing thousands of times since then, but those generous acts still are as vivid in my mind as the day they happened. I feel the sun as it warms the orange lifejacket that I wore. I look down and see the purple worm with the propeller harness tied to the line on my Johnson spincast reel. I smell the coffee brewed over a fire and see the mist at sunrise on the tailwaters of Bagnell Dam.

I hope that Jesse will have the same type of memories of our trips when he is an adult. And, when he comes of age, I hope that he will share the sport that we both love with someone new.

You should do the same. Better bass fishing is about more than the know-how that you accumulate. It’s also about what you pass on.

Once upon a time, fathers did a good job of doing that. In a survey of anglers, 67 percent said that their fathers took them on their first fishing trips. But 87.8 percent of those respondents were age 35 or older. Of those under 35, just 12.2 percent said that they were taken by their fathers.

“If dad has a diminishing role in introducing new anglers today, and others don’t step in, how will fishing be passed to future generations? And how will those who miss out even know what they’ve missed?” asks the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, which sponsors Anglers’ Legacy, an angler recruitment program.

Without participation, without a strong constituency, we will lose it all: funding for fisheries research and management; access to lakes, rivers and oceans; an innovative industry that constantly improves our boats, tackle, and equipment.

As my eyes grew heavy, the meteors faded as the eastern sky lightened and a hidden sun painted delicate clouds a soft rose. I slept, but only for a few minutes. The angler in me would not allow for more.

I woke Jesse in time for the topwater bite.

Excerpt from "Tonight and Tomorrow" in Better Bass Fishing, available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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