Texas youth event targets new anglers

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — B.A.S.S. Federation Nation members and a local Junior Bassmaster club taught more than 200 children about fishing May 31 and June 1 in a program aimed at introducing youngsters to the sport.

 "We do all these one-day youth events, and we never see the kids again," said Danny Gove, the youth director for the Texas B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. "Our idea for this program was to use it as a way to recruit kids into the Junior Bassmaster program."

 The event, held at College Station's Central Park, was open to children between 3 and 18 years of age and featured seminars on all aspects of fishing. A CastingKids competition was held as well, won by Kyle Daugherty of Austin and Waco's Taylor Leboeuf.

Federation Nation affiliates Bryan and Brazos bass clubs, along with help from a couple of other adult clubs, joined about 15 members of the Bryan Junior Bassmasters to work with the children, Gove said.

 However, the big draw for children was the chance to fish a pond that had been freshly stocked with 500 pounds of catfish.

 On [the first day], we weighed in 325 fish," Gove said. "I didn't even count the second day because we were so tired."

 Gove said the point was not to have children fishing for bass but to hook them on the sport of angling.

 "We wanted to keep it simple," he said. "Our philosophy is to make sure the kids can catch a fish and make sure they enjoy themselves.

 "For kids to be interested in catching fish, they have to catch fish."

 Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) personnel stocked fish, manned the agency's Take Me Fishing trailer and helped weigh fish as they were caught.

 There's a strong tournament program for the kids now, but Gove is trying to go a little bit deeper in the community to reach people who might not have the experience with fishing and introduce them to angling," TPWD's Mark Webb said. "At every turn, he was giving them information and inviting them to be involved with the junior club."

 Gove said a couple of the children immediately joined the Bryan Junior Bassmasters as a result of the program.

 "That's what this is about," he said. "We're bringing in kids who have not fished and getting them involved."

 The event could even be included in a Time Magazine story on one of its key sponsors, Atkinson Toyota.

 "Time Magazine sent a photographer to take pictures for a story on Atkinson's community service," Gove said. "The story is supposed to be in one of the magazine's issues next year."

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