Many inner city children don’t have opportunities to explore nature and the water outside of city sidewalks and rain filled ditches, but thanks to corporate sponsor, Baker Botts, L.L.P. and their staff volunteers, along with event sponsors: Zebco/MotorGuide, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Motors, Boots Follmar Marine, Pradco, Riverside Bait Company, Academy, Honor Trophies, Texas Parks & Wildlife and the “Get Hooked on Fishing – Not Drugs” Future Fisherman Foundation Program, the children at E. J. Scott Elementary in Houston experienced first hand a day of fun and the pure excitement of fishing. You don’t have to have special athletic skills or abilities to fish, nor do you have to have prior experience, just the desire and a little help from friends like Ms. Jordan, from E. J. Scott Elementary School, and Baker & Botts volunteers. Kids, water and fishing just naturally go together, but a little experienced help and preplanning assure positive introductions to this fun-filled sport. Each volunteer to the Scott School fishing derby contributed their time and effort to help the children not only with fishing, but the overall experience strengthened the children’s sense of self awareness, self esteem, self reliance, and confidence. A classic example is Victor Bedolla, who not only caught a fish, but he caught the most fish and landed first place and a trophy on his very first time to go fishing! Jose Vasquez, not to be outdone by Victor, caught the biggest fish, a 2 1/2 pound catfish and received a trophy. Jesse Nava tried as hard as any child that day to catch a big fish, and he earned the Good Sport trophy for the one that got away! We had a four way tie for second place with Jaime Hernandez, Glen Simpson, Alma Ventura and Roxanne Soreque, all landing five fish apiece. All the winners above received Zebco 33 combos for their efforts. In addition to breakfast, lunch, sodas and water, provided by Baker & Botts, the kids received “First Fish” Awards from The Future Fisherman Foundation, caps from Skeeter Boats and Zebco, tackle provided by Riverside Bait Company, Quick-Hit catfish and panfish bait provided from Pradco, and CastAway decals and patches and other stickers were all given away as door prizes. Every child left with plenty of goodies as reminders of their fun-filled day. It’s the tug on the end of the line that matters and the memories and bonds that are created between the children and adults. Fishing is a nondiscriminating sport. It knows no boundaries of age, sex or nationality. It’s feeling that telltale signal of a fish at the end of the line that gets both young and old anglers excited. Our fishing event was held at Sheldon Lake State Park in the Sheldon Lake Environmental Education Center, located 13 miles east of downtown Houston. The facilities were perfect for our outing. There were two stocked one acre ponds with lots of shade trees, picnic benches and tables, restrooms, and plenty of parking. Thomas Olson, the Education Director, and Susan Webb, a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Game Warden, were instrumental in helping with the children. It wasn’t too hot or windy and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. Even if some of these kids didn’t get their fish to the bank, they experienced the thrill and they were all successful in trying. The volunteers left feeling they had done a good job in helping the children. We all spent some real quality time with kids that might not otherwise have been able to go on such an adventure. Even though the kids don’t realize it, that day helped set a precedent for the rest of their lives! Through programs such as Zebco’s All-American Fishing Derbies, Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs, Bassmaster’s CastingKids contests, Kid Fish, and National Fishing Week, all children should have the opportunity to learn about fishing and be exposed to these wonderful programs! Zebco is so dedicated to kids and fishing that they spend more than $250,000 annually in support of these programs. To celebrate Zebco’s 50th Anniversary, they created a “Best Fishing Photo and Story” contest. Entry forms can be obtained by purchasing one of the new special series Zebco commemorative 202’s, 33’s or 50CLS. After purchasing any of these Zebco products, all you need to do is complete the entry form, submit a photo and an essay in 50 words or less describing the outing, and the grand prize winner will receive a Chrysler Jeep Cherokee! Other prizes include MotorGuide trolling motors, digital cameras, Limited Edition reels, etc. Winners will be notified by mail in October of this year. Even kids from single parent homes can experience the joy of fishing by writing to Zebco Single Parent Offer, P.O. Box 270, Tulsa, OK 74101. Zebco will send them a complimentary brochure on fishing and lend them a video to show them how easy it is and how much fun kids and fishing can have when joined together. One need not have a large organized group to plan an outing for youngsters. A small group can get together to accomplish the same purpose, that is, introducing children to the fun and sport of fishing. Perhaps one of your neighbors would like to go with you and help teach several of the children in the neighborhood how to fish, or your own kids, no matter how many, the essential factor is sharing in the love of the outdoors and of fishing. There are some basic guidelines that should be considered when planning an outing for kids: First and foremost, make it fun for the children, don’t make them go out there and spend a whole day dredging up the bottom of the lake or pond. Second, build the activity around their attention span, not yours! The younger the child, the shorter the time-frame should be. Third, make sure you have plenty of beverages, ice, snacks, sunscreen, caps and a life jacket for each child if your taking them on a boat. Fourth, children don’t care if they catch small panfish, bass, catfish or any other kind of fish, just so long as it swims and has fins! If you need help putting together a fishing activity for a group of children in your area, please call me at (281) 441-7266 and I’ll be happy to assist you with more information.
– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide