Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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School fishing teams: Building tomorrow’s anglers? – Part 2

Examining this growing sport: Part 2

In my last column, I kicked around potential problems and opportunities presented by school fishing teams with Jason Bahr, coach of the Brainerd Warrior Fishing Team from Brainerd. This week, Jason and I delve into how these organizations can reach their full potential in helping to ensure a great future for fishing.


Lindner: We’ve heard complaints from tackle companies about anglers and teams soliciting for sponsorship or free and discounted equipment. Is there a lack of understanding of the size of promotional budgets and the slim profit margins of most companies? Your impressions?


Bahr: We’re trying to control that by having only coaches contact sponsors, and we try to coordinate these effort on a statewide basis to avoid pestering company personnel.


In addition, we’ve started programs with retail outlets to offer discounts for student anglers. Manufacturers will direct their promotional efforts for youth fishing through major retailers, so young anglers patronize stores rather than going to manufacturers for discounts. This keeps business local and is easier for companies to manage. We want students to understand that such discounts won’t always be available. After graduation, they’ll buy tackle like everyone else.


Lindner: While many kids have become skillful anglers through team participation, it’s also important to impart lessons about angling etiquette, fish care, and sportsmanship. What’s being done in that regard?


Bahr: Coaches and boat captains must teach young anglers these important principles, so that competition doesn’t stifle the development of educated, conscientious anglers. It’s a two-prong approach, with seminars at team meetings and on-the-water discussions.


Lindner: Parental involvement is important, since many boat captains are parents of team members. Has this been a problem?


Bahr: As you might expect, it’s a struggle to get enough volunteers, so we also hold events that don’t require boats, such as ice fishing and fishing from shore. This can be expanded in the future, especially for middle-schoolers who participate at the junior level.


Lindner: What misconceptions have parents had?


Bahr: Some think that the sport requires an expensive boat and high-tech electronics. This isn’t the case, and we have examples of kids fishing successfully with Grandpa in an old skiff. And we find parents believing that it’s the coach’s responsibility to provide boats. We’re willing to help coordinate this, but again, we depend on volunteers as boaters, as well as driving kids to events.


Lindner: What have been the most rewarding parts of your position?


Bahr: On a personal basis, I’ve watched my two sons become avid anglers, and we’ve traveled to some of the best lakes in the country for tournaments. As a coach, it’s been a revelation to see parents getting into fishing as a result of their kids’ involvement. Several families have decided to buy a boat and make fishing a family activity. It’s wonderful to see parents catch a passion for fishing from their sons and daughters.


Lindner: What changes do you envision that will help educate young anglers, and help coaches and mentors guide this next generation of anglers?


Bahr: To coordinate the learning process, we plan to develop a curriculum that will contain key steps and lessons that coaches and boat captains can impart to their team members. You could call it to a manual or guide, such as the Boy Scouts use as kids advance. This will help adults in the program know what’s required, and make sure student-anglers learn as much as they can about all facets of the sport. This will better equip them for leadership roles when they become adults.

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