The fondest memories of my life are recorded in my childhood
summers. Each morning at 5 o'clock my Grandfather would roust
me from the welcome confines of a feather bed, and he would be
in a hurry to go fishing. By the time I made it to the kitchen,
"PaPa" would have our coffee poured for us and although I was
only five or six years old, I drank coffee just like my "PaPa".
We would use two cups to drink our coffee; pouring the coffee
from cup to cup cooling it which made it easier and quicker
to drink. Therefore, we were saving precious moments drinking
coffee, moments that could be better spent on the fishing bank.
My best memories are those of standing on the bank
next to my grandfather with our rod and reel in hand.
Little did I know it at the time, but my grandfather
was giving me the greatest gift he would ever give. It
has become a gift that has lasted a lifetime. "PaPa"
gave me the gift of fishing.
Now that I am a grandfather three times over I feel
like I have come full circle in my fishing life. I now
want to give the wonderful gift of fishing to my
grandchildren and extend the giving to children that
might not ever have the opportunity to discover
fishing. This is the motivation behind the Wishing To
Go Fishing Program.
Children need fishing.
When we teach children to fish we open pathways that children
can explore therefore discovering that there is more to fishing
than fishing. Fishing is a place; a place we can go with a friend,
friends, or family. Fishing is a place that we can go in
solitude but still not be alone. Fishing is a place where we
can share the homes, refuge, and sanctuaries of the community
of wildlife. Fishing is a place that we can listen and hear
the gentle roar of a river, the rustle of leaves, the cry
of the coyote, or the subtle slash of a rising trout.
Children need fishing because it will instill a greater
sense and appreciation of nature and life. Children need
fishing because time spent fishing is preferable to time
spent idly. Time spent idly by children affords too many
opportunities for children to wonder what the entire mystique
about drugs is. Today's children are faced with drive-by
shootings, gang-bangers, meth labs, abductions, and terrorism.
Although fishing cannot solve these problems fishing can serve
as a wonderful alternative, a choice or avenue for children to
take. Yes, children need fishing.
Fishing needs children!
I recently read an article that stated that fishing as a sport
is currently on the decline. If this is indeed true then this
trend needs to be reversed.
If twenty years from now we have fewer fishers then we will
have fewer stewards of nature, fewer trustees of the
environment, fewer wardens of the community of wildlife,
and fewer voices in the chorus protecting and preserving
our natural resources and great outdoors. Fishing needs children.
There currently are some wonderful organizations that are
dedicated to introducing children to fishing. Organizations
such as Take A Kid Fishing, Water Works Wonders, and the
Future Fishermen Foundation are working toward the
goal of creating new fishers in the children of today.
When I created my program, Wishing To Go Fishing I knew
it would never become a national organization nor did I wish
it to be so. My goal is to keep it on a local and area basis
trying to create future fishers here at home. My greatest hope
for this program is two fold. First, that the program will make
a difference in children's lives and secondly that fishermen
and women will use my program as an initative and example to
create similar programs in their communtities. If enough people
follow the example set by Wishing To Go Fishing
then the future of fishing and the future of children will naturally follow.
It is my hope that thousands of programs introducing children
to fishing will begin today. It's a good thing to do.
~ Barry Shrader
About Barry Shrader:
Barry Shrader, also known as the Fly Fishing Cowboy, is
an avid fisherman from southern Oklahoma. His fishing life
includes all types of fishing but his true love is fly fishing.
He is owner of the Old West Fly Shop in Reagan, Oklahoma
near the beautiful Blue River. Barry also writes a weekly
fishing column and is creator of the "Wishing To
Go Fishing" program. For information on how you can start
your own program, go to