A program offered by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. aims to put the fun in fishing for children aged five to fifteen, who can take advantage of their free “Learn to Fish” sessions.
“Kids have a lot of things in their lives today that compete with fishing,” says Jessica Yarwood, the society’s communications coordinator. “There’s been a change in the trend of activities, but people are coming back to fishing. We’re trying to expose kids to the experience of fishing, and encourage them to get outside.”
The “Learn to Fish” session is two hours long, with the first hour devoted to hands-on instruction and the second hour to hands-on fishing, with participants able to catch and release their fish or take them home if they wish. “We encourage people to bring a cooler and some ice,” says Yarwood, adding that proper fish handling is part of the session. Nearby sessions include one at Nicola Lake in Monck Park in Merritt on Saturday, June 11 (10:00 a.m. to noon) and one at Edith Lake in Kamloops on Wednesday, June 22 (6:00 to 8:00 p.m.).
Rapala fishing rods are provided, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Younger children are provided with spin casting rods, while older children use a spinning rod, and the lessons are tailored to the different age groups. Each session covers the basics of freshwater fishing, including hatchery roles, fish identification, tackle, rod rigging, and casting. While the sessions are free, donations are gratefully accepted, and attendees must pre-register (call 250-315-1050 to register for the Merritt session, or 250-828-3500 to register for Kamloops).
The society also offers a rod loan program, which allows individuals and families to try fishing without having to purchase gear. Rods and a basic box of tackle are available at no charge from locations throughout B.C., including the Cache Creek visitor centre.
“We stumbled on the rod loan program while delivering guides to a visitor centre in Chilliwack,” says Terri Hadwin, the chief operating officer of Gold Country Communities Society, which operates the Cache Creek visitor centre. A sandwich board advertised the program, which Hadwin knew was also available in Kamloops. “We thought ‘Hey, we can get that as well’ as an extra activity for locals and visitors,” she says. Five rods and sets of tackle are available for periods of up to one week, and Hadwin says they’re grateful to the Freshwater Fisheries Society for offering the program.
She adds that anyone needing a fishing licence can obtain one from the visitor centre. “We can help people fill out the fishing licence form by walking them through the online application and then printing off the licence.” Those aged 15 and under do not need a licence, and an adult who is not fishing, but is accompanying a child who is, also does not require a licence.
Yarwood says the society is happy to be able to provide rods and tackle to the Cache Creek visitor centre. “Hopefully fishing is something kids will find they love and will come back to. And it might be something they’ll pass on to their own kids in time.”