Exemplary anglers share their passion for fishing
Fish Busters' Bulletin
Monday, May 02, 2011
Media contact: Bob Wattendorf
If you really want to know why fishing is fun, all you have to
do is take children out and watch the stream of emotions that light
up their faces as they learn to bait a hook, cast and finally hook
and retrieve a fish. The joy of learning, the reconnection with
nature and our heritage, and the fulfillment of knowing they can
catch their own - just like the pioneers - contribute to those
Conservation agencies, guides, facility planners, anglers and
boaters share roles in making fishing more fun and satisfying for
everyone on the water. They all have an abiding love for aquatic
resources and the conservation stewardship ethic that help keep our
natural resources pristine.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is
striving to create the next generation that cares through a variety
of education and outreach programs across the state. However, what
makes these programs work are the staff and volunteers. They are
the unsung heroes of this movement to connect children and
For instance, Mike Lesso and Dave Morse, who work with the FWC's
Jacksonville Youth Summer Fishing Clinics, have taught more than
50,000 children to fish.
"Mike, a high school teacher and avid sportsman, and Dave, a
retired businessman and passionate recreational and tournament
fisherman, have been teaching children how to catch fish for so
long that many of their earliest pupils now have children of their
own," said Eddie Leonard, their supervisor from the FWC's Division
of Freshwater Fisheries Management.
"It's apparent when observing these two that they love what they
are doing," Leonard said.
Youth summer fishing clinics help kids appreciate freshwater
resources and teach them the skills needed to catch fish. "These
incredible experiences are delivered completely free of charge to
participants," he added.
The duo typically conducts two workshops per day in the
Jacksonville area, throughout the summer, reaching more than 5,000
students during summer break some years. Classes begin with a
30-minute lecture on ethical angling, water pollution, fish
biology, tackle and techniques, and several other topics.
"Then the fun starts," Leonard said. They take the kids to the
water's edge. Some children get frustrated easily or seem
distracted at first. However, once someone catches the first fish,
they are all very much in the moment.
"The expressions on the faces of the kids catching that first
fish are nothing short of fantastic," Leonard said.
There always seems to be that one kid who stands out as a true
angler, Leonard explained. "One little girl at a recent event was
so successful that she offered to show the other kids how it was
done. The student became the teacher in 90 minutes."
The FWC maintains more than 80 fish management areas statewide
and manages public fisheries in rivers and lakes. Partners help by
providing bait, tackle, advertisements, supporting materials and
fish camps around the state.
"This is a great program showcasing multiple partnerships and
the incredible work of dedicated volunteers," Leonard said. To
learn more about fish camps in freshwater and fishing clinics in
saltwater, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing.
The following checklist makes fishing more enjoyable, safe and
sustainable for everyone, including future generations.
An Ethical Angler:
- Promotes, through example and mentoring, an ethical use of
- Values and respects the aquatic environment and all living
things, including other anglers and boaters.
- Never dumps pollutants, such as gas or oil, or tosses pieces of
fishing equipment or trash on the ground or in the water.
- Purchases required fishing licenses and permits. (See
- Learns and obeys angling and boating regulations and can
identify fish to adhere to the rules.
- Keeps no more fish than needed for consumption. Uses tackle and
techniques that minimize harm to fish and carefully handles and
releases alive all fish that are unwanted or prohibited by
- Takes precautionary measures to prevent the spread of exotic
plants and animals and does not use diseased or nonnative
- Participates in conservation efforts such as cleanups,
transplanting, tagging and creel surveys.
- Practices safe angling and boating.
- Protects animals and the environment from damage caused by
careless boat operation.
- Conserves energy and water on a daily basis, knowing how it
affects local fish and wildlife.
Fishing license sales, matching federal funds and donations support
these programs. The law generally requires fishing licenses if you
are between 16 and 65 years old. However, many anglers know that
buying a license helps fund fish and wildlife conservation, so they
voluntarily buy one as a way of showing their stewardship ethic. In
addition, you can donate to Florida Youth Fishing and Hunting
Programs when you purchase a license.