Gonzales youth gets hooked on fishing

Kyle Riviere
Saturday's event had seven stations set up to teach the kids the ins and outs of fishing and safety on the water.

You don't need to sit through a big "60 Minutes" special to figure out that kids just don't get outside the way they did in the past.

In today's age of technology, they're oftentimes cooped up in the house playing with their many electronic devises--whether it's video games, the computer or iPads.

The Angler Magazine has been trying to change that trend over the years.

To do this, they created their "Hook Kids on Fishing" event and for the first time, the event made its way to Gonzales on Saturday morning.

"We just want to get these kids involved in the outdoors, get them outside and away from the glare of the computer screen and iPads and help them have an appreciation for the outdoors," events and marketing manager Melanie Boone said.

The day-long event encourages kids to get out and discover the excitement of fishing instead of lounging around indoors with computers and video games.

On Saturday morning, the Lamar Dixon Expo Center had seven stations set up. For each station, an instructor gave the kids a crash-course in the certain aspects of fishing, which included: safety on the water, conservation, hooks and rigging, casting, tackle, catch and release and rod-handling.

"You want to get them young and teach them the right way to do things and it's just like the old saying goes: if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime," Boone said.

On Saturday, there was a great turnout despite the frigid conditions, and the kids surrounded each station with great attentiveness.

"It's a fun day for the kids to be able to come out here and learn the basics from the guys that do this every day," Boone said. "They're all charter-boat captains and guys who do this for a living so if the kids have questions, these are the guys that are going to give them the right answers."

In addition to the hands-on instruction, the first 150 kids registered were given free goody-filled back packs, and the first 50 that completed all seven stations were made eligible to receive a free rod and reel.

At the end the day, when the participants finished all of the stations, they were brought out to the pond to do some fishing.

"I've been fishing ever since I was young. I started in the fresh water and as I got older, I moved to the salt water, so I love to see the kids doing it," Boone said. "The instructors love the questions, and they love to see these kids getting excited and showing an interest in what they do."

With the success of Saturday, Angler is hoping to bring the event back to Gonzales next year.

"We're hoping to start making this an annual event, and we're also going to be traveling to several other places across the coast and teach more kids in Louisiana about fishing and the right way to do it," Boone said.