A bright future for our sport

Jeff Narron is president of the Five County Bassmasters in the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation. Learn more about the club here and about its youth programs here.

It’s common knowledge that the future of our sport lies heavily within the hands of our youth. This is why it is so important to introduce these young individuals to outdoor activities such as fishing. The more positive and motivating experiences that anglers receive during their younger years will ultimately transfer over to their adulthood. We, as mentors, are basically laying out the blueprints for future generations to carry on.

Parents do a great job on their own when encouraging their sons and daughters to be proactive in outdoor and wildlife activities, yet as ambassadors to our sport, we need to embrace any chance we get to help.

Many adult fishing clubs nationwide have youth memberswho regularly attend various club functions. These functions are where valuable information can be passed along that lead these youth in a positive direction for the future. Conservation activities with local wildlife agencies are a great way to expose our youth to a broad range of topics that impact our woods, waterways and wetlands. Programs such as these will help them to understand that beyond a day’s worth of casting and reeling, there is more to the sport.

Some state agencies hold regularly scheduled workshops for young individuals to explain the needs and benefits of wildlife and conservation efforts, while other agencies are surely willing to assist in an effort teach about such topics. A simple call or e-mail to these parties should be enough to get the ball rolling on some type of learning experience for the group.

When it comes to participating in outdoor and wildlife activities, some youth decide to take matters into their own hands. As with the increasing interest and membership in collegiate bass fishing, the interest is trickling down into the high school ranks as well. Several states currently recognize tournament bass fishing as a high school athletic sport. While other states wait to follow suit, some individuals are not as patient.

So is the case for student Max Prince from Clayton High in North Carolina. For Max, what started out as plans for a senior project quickly spread into something more. Enlisting the help of faculty member and tournament bass angler Randy Parker, Max was looking to start a youth club within the school for educational purposes and the occasional friendly buddy tournament.

Parker’s connection withhis local bass angling club, the Five County Bassmasters, added with his experience as a science teacher, would be a great benefit for those interested in Max’s endeavor.

Quickly, this project saw interest from a dozen other individuals. Now, with roughly 15 students sharing the same interest, these individuals regularly meet and continue the educational aspects of the club with Parker’s guidance. Participation in local trade shows and seminar events has allowed these individuals the opportunity to gain knowledge of a variety of topics not found within the classroom setting.

In an effort to fulfill their tournament angling desires, the students took an additional step and created a junior club associated with B.A.S.S. and the B.A.S.S. Nation. With Parker’s assistance and the Five County Bassmasters serving as the sponsoring adult club, several of these junior anglers regularly attend tournament events with their adult counterparts where they learn from theirexperienced boat captains.

The Clayton juniors went on to win both age divisions of a North Carolina state youth tournament, and they qualified to compete in the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional Junior Bassmaster competition.

Thanks to the desire and initiative of student Max Prince, the Clayton juniors are proof of the potential positive impacts that educational and conservation exposure within the high school level can achieve.

Regardless of what resources we have available in our area, we need to take every opportunity we can to ensure that our youth get exposed to these valuable learning tools in order build a solid foundation. They are, simply, the future we must rely on to continue our heritage.