A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: State program aims to ‘recruit, retain and reactivate’ adult anglers

School kids fervently look forward to summer break, but often after a few weeks, they complain of boredom.

An 18-inch largemouth bass jumping and shaking its head at the end of a line is a sure-fire way to cure boredom and instill a passion for a lifelong wholesome activity in a young person. Many parents would like to teach their kids how to fish, but don’t know how to fish themselves.

The Angler’s Legacy program, one of several programs under the Aquatic Education Branch of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, provides an avenue for adults to learn to fish.

“This program is for adults,” said Easton Copley, aquatic education coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We want adults who’ve never fished before or haven’t fished in a long time to become successful, long-term anglers.”

A participant learns the art of fileting fish at a Hook and Cook event May 26 at Otter Creek Park in Meade County. Hook and Cook teaches anglers how to catch and properly clean fish. It is one of several programs offered by the Aquatic Education Branch of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to teach the basic fundamentals of fishing.(Photo from Kentucky Afield)

This program teaches the basics of fishing such as the difference between spinning and baitcasting oufits, how to determine the proper hook size for the species sought, choosing the right lures or how to take a fish off a hook. Things that experienced anglers take for granted can be dizzying for a beginner.

“We want to recruit, retain and reactivate,” Copley said. “A big part of it is reactivation. Many adults fished when they were kids, but forgot how over the years.”

The Teacher’s Toolbox is another aquatic education program along the lines of the Angler’s Legacy program.

“The Teacher’s Tacklebox is a program for anyone who wants to learn how to teach kids fishing,” Copley said. “We are teaching the teacher.”

The program is designed for educators, school administrators, Boy Scout leaders, church groups, outdoor clubs or other organizations who need guidance teaching kids how to fish. The course covers all of the basics such as fish identification, recognizing fish habitat, lure selection and how to cast as well as fishing regulations, group management and other skills.

“We will teach you how to fish first; then we will teach you how to teach people to fish,” Copley said.

Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing segments of outdoor recreation in the United States. The Aquatic Education Branch now has a dozen kayaks to teach kayak fishing on streams and small lakes.
“If we have five adults interested, we will set up a kayak fishing class,” Copley said. “We will be doing more kayak fishing courses this summer.”

The kayak fishing courses are either at small lakes such as Jacobson Park Lake near Lexington or Camp Ernst Lake in Boone County, Elmer Davis Lake in Owen County or on Elkhorn Creek in Franklin County.

Students in the kayak fishing course have some classroom time before they hit the water. “We always try to do the classroom portion inside so students don’t get distracted by wildlife and other stuff outside,” Copley said. “Then, we hit the water.”

There is a kayak fishing course scheduled for Aug. 18 at the Fern Creek Sportsman’s Club in Jefferson County. A valid Kentucky fishing license is the only fee for any kayak fishing course.

The aquatic education branch also offers a course called “Hook and Cook” that teaches people how to properly clean and prepare freshly caught fish. “This course is targeted for people interested in knowing where their food comes from,” Copley said. “On June 30, we will meet at Crescent Hill Library in Louisville and then go to the Cherokee Park FINs Lake and catch our fish to clean and prepare.”
The aquatic education branch also loans fishing equipment to groups. “Anybody that has any kind of event, we can take them fishing equipment to use,” Copley said.

The Aquatic Education Branch offers many opportunities for Kentuckians to learn a rewarding pastime that can continue until old age. For more information on these programs, visit the Aquatic Education homepage on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at www.fw.ky.gov.

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Author Lee McClellan is associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Lee and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter at @kyafield

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, click here.

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