I was fortunate enough today to catch the tail end of a youth fishing tournament that in part the guys at Bass Online helped put on, that got young anglers fishing (for prizes and the sheer joy of it, too).
I watched as the host called up the young fishermen, some of whom looked barely old enough to bait a hook, and handed them prizes provided by sponsors like Okuma.
When I was told about the tournament, I wondered if the kids would be paired with an adult running a boat, or they’d be fishing an especially stocked pond with more and larger fish than they might catch anywhere else.
But what I forgot was that these were kids. The young fishermen, from reports, landed everything from catfish to sunfish on a day on the bank, and although a few walked away with more prizes than the rest, it was clear that nobody lost.
It served as a poignant reminder to me, and hopefully to anyone reading this and looking at these elated young anglers, that the size of the fish or how frequently they’re caught doesn’t have as much to do with our sport as an outsider might suspect.
They were “Standing On (or near) A River Waving a Stick,” to once again borrow a phrase from a fishing writer from whom we can all learn a thing or two, John Gierach.
I’d initially gone thinking that photographing some young anglers with bigger bass might be a great way to put our sport in the limelight and for a good cause. As I was driving home, I realized that photos like these were more important. These kids were just fishing to fish, and that, regardless of their “success,” on the water throughout their lives, will sustain them and their love for the sport regardless of everything else.