Competitive Fishing Makes A Splash With Young Anglers
By Tammy Leytham
Attracting the next generation of anglers is crucial for the future of competitive fishing.
The Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail attracts a younger crowd with its Legacy Series, which was started in 2007.
“Our sport is a little different than a lot of sports. Most amateur sports are populated by children, teens and young adults. And in many of those sports, they are introduced to it in school,” said Bobby Eads, senior vice president of Fishers of Men.
That’s not usually the case with fishing tournaments. “Most of the new people we get in that demographic group already know the sport or they are learning from their fishing buddies,” he said.
The Legacy Series is a separate set of events in which competing teams are made up of one adult and one junior under 19 years old.
“We feel that this series is a great way for our adult members to introduce their children, grandchildren or just young friends to our sport,” Eads said. “The Legacy Series has been a great success.”
The Alabama Bass Trail series also includes student and college categories.
Competitive fishing is starting to make a splash in colleges and high schools.
It is one of the fastest-growing collegiate sports, according to Fishing League World-wide (FLW), organizer of the FLW Outdoors College Series. FLW has 8,000 anglers competing in 17 events, including a national championship with a $29,000 grand prize and an automatic berth in the $100,000 professional Forrest Wood Cup.
In May, FLW joined Bass Pro Shops in creating the 2017 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Open series with a 24-event schedule. Tournaments are free to enter and the top 10 percent of teams in each event advance to the High School Fishing National Championships.
“Bass Pro Shops is deeply committed to helping young people connect with nature through fishing and outdoor recreation,” said Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris. “We are very proud to support Fishing League Worldwide and their efforts to grow the sport of fishing with anglers of all ages.”
And Bass Pro Shops puts its money where its mouth is. This year, it donated 40,000 rods and reels to nonprofits through Gone Fishing, a nationwide movement to get kids from all backgrounds connected to the outdoors. In five years, Bass Pro Shops has donated 250,000 items to youth-focused nonprofit organizations.