Rebuilding Angler Stocks One at a Time

I spoke with a buddy last week, and he was grousing about the lower numbers of striped bass.  There has been a lot of chatter about regulations and biomass, and it seems like protective measures will soon be in place.  So I asked him about the biomass of anglers.

“What the heck are you talking about?” he asked.

“Well, the number of fish are down and we’re doing something about it.  But what about the number of anglers?  They’re down, too.  I think we should do something about it as well.”

In 2014, the number of anglers between 6-17 years of age was over 10.5 million.  The number of video gamers was about seven times that number, or 70.3 million.  It’d be nice to think that before video games all of those 70.3 million folks would spend their free time fishing, but that’s not realistic.  Adults are busy, too, with work, and bills occupying their focus.  But if each of us gets into teaching kids to fish, then our ranks will double for upcoming years.

Easier said than done for something always gets in the way.  Here are a few ideas I’m going to try this coming year.

Schedule a time to go. If we don’t get something firm on the books then the odds of going fishing reduce exponentially. Outdoor youth activities and work are some of the biggest culprits for derailing a fishing trip, so I’ll check the best time to fish, pick a few days, mark on the calendar and be sure to make it happen.

Treat learning to fish as a process. I’ll be sure to do some dry-land work before we hit the water. Casting practice in the side yard, knot tying in the living room following how-to video and checking online for fish identification. I think I’ll try a variety of things to make sure I hold the new anglers’ attention.

Go during a hot bite. I’ll be sure that some of the scheduled times are around peak fishing. Nothing creates a convert than some hot fishing action (but not too hot so they don’t think it’s too easy).

Change it up. In the beginning it’s important to hold a new angler’s attention, so I’ll make sure that we do a variety of types of fishing. A mix of fresh and salt, boat and wade, and bait, spin and fly should provide enough diversity to light the fire.

Repetition makes the master. Instead of going just once, I’ll plan on several trips throughout the season. The more we go, the greater the chance of the new angler continuing on with the sport.
What are some other considerations that I’ve forgotten?  How do you all teach fishing?

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at