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Growing the Love of Fishing in Youth

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Many of those of us who have a passion for fishing as adults, fell in love with it as a kid thanks to someone taking the time to introduce us to the sport. Maybe it was a family member. Maybe a neighbor. Or maybe it was a volunteer through organizations like C.A.S.T. for Kids that sparked that love of a lifetime with this great outdoor sport.

C.A.S.T for Kids is the largest fishing charity in the nation, and yet many people don’t know anything about it or even that their are nearly a hundred events annually across the nation. It started in 1991 as a way to get special needs children a joyful day of fishing through the sharing of the sport by volunteers. Their mission has been to get kids that might not otherwise have the opportunity as well as their families on the water and catching fish. They seek to introduce the kids to the joy of fishing while introducing them to the natural resources near them.

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They have since expanded to host Fishing Kids events in urban areas where kids might not have many opportunities to fish as well as Take A Warrior Fishing events where they focus on getting soldiers assigned to Warrior Transition Commands out on the water for some outdoor recreation.

In 2017, 3,400 volunteers took 3,000 kids fishing in 75 events. But that’s just scratching the surface of what Cast for Kids hopes to do.

FLW Tour pro Jay Yelas is the Executive Director of the non-profit organization now and asked me to share what they are doing in hopes of expanding the events across the nation to offer more opportunities to get kids on the water that might not otherwise get the chance. 

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“I have such a passion for fishing, and I love sharing it. We’re trying to share that feeling with as many kids as we can across the nation,” Yelas said. “I’d love to see this grow to hundreds of events across the nation every year to introduce kids and their families to fishing. Everyone that comes to the events has a great time. The kids all get shirts, rods, reels, a great meal and a fun day on the water. And then we let them come up at the end and give them a trophy and let them talk about their experience. It’s just a great time for everyone involved.”

With the growth of college and high school fishing, I would love to see a push by clubs to host these events annually. I think it would be extremely rewarding for the kids on these teams to give back to other special needs youth who wouldn’t have the opportunity if it wasn’t for them. It would be a great introduction to giving back to the community at a youth level and be a lot of fun for all the kids involved. 

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To get involved, you can visit CastforKids.org. You can sign up to be a volunteer at an already established event, host your own event, or just help by donating to the perfect fishing charity. 

If you’re involved with high school and college fishing teams, I encourage you to contact Jim Behnken if you’re in the western region or Jeff Barnes if you’re in the eastern region. Find their contact information on the Contact Us page at CastforKids.org. You can look up the events that are scheduled on their calendar on the site or offer to host a local event on your home lake. Check out this great video on one of the children that was introduced to fishing and the impact it had on him, his family and the volunteers.