Fishing program gives kids passport to fun


The guy whose picture is on my driver’s license can’t sing a note, he can’t play the piano, he can’t speak Italian, or make a decent quiche. My kids have had to learn those talents from other, much more qualified instructors.

But thanks to some very good teachers — primarily my father and my uncle Jim — and their abundance of skill and patience, I have learned a little about fishing.

I know enough to tie a decent knot, put a razor point on the sharp end of a hook, step lightly when approaching the stream bank, and always remember the benefits of live bait. Now my kids know those things, and hopefully a whole lot more.

And with a good foundation, and some special training from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, I’m able to share the joy of fishing with other people’s kids.

The “Passport to Fishing” program takes volunteers and educates them in how to become smile-makers, without going to dentistry school. You teach a kid to fish, and you’ll se a lot of those pearly whites.

In a one-day workshop, Passport to Fishing gives you the vehicle you need to transport your love of fishing into a contagion you can pass along to our next generation of anglers. You learn how to teach the sport you love. It was an enjoyable experience when I took the class, and the fun with teaching kids all about fishing has continued ever since.

The course covers the basics, and a step-by-step method for how to run an educational fishing program and stage a fishing event. As a volunteer instructor, you will show kids the what and the how of fishing, then the first time that bobber disappears under the surface of the water, the smiles follow.

As with any program involving children, instructors will need to pass a background check before being certified, but once that is taken care of and the course completed, the fishing teachers return to their communities and open up the outdoors for many kids.

Passport to Fishing makes a big tackle box full of resources available to its instructors, such as posters, brochures, grants, fishing equipment, and more training.

This volunteer instructor course is free, as are the learn-to-fish clinics the Passport instructors teach. Educators, scout leaders, conservation club members, retirees — anyone with an interest in fishing and kids — are urged to take part in the workshop and become certified instructors.

The Passport to Fishing training seminars take place throughout the state this month, and the Division of Wildlife office in Findlay is holding one from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 17. To register for the volunteer training workshop, or for more information, contact Linda Ringer at the Wildlife District Two office at 419-429-8347. More information is also available at the Web site.

Passport to Fishing was created through a partnership of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Teaching a kid to fish can be as informal as spending an afternoon one-on-one at an area pond, or taking part in more organized proceedings such as the Passport to Fishing clinics, or the annual kids fishing derby sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Toledo.

Fred Collins volunteers at the Kiwanis event, and he says trading a little of his time for a few hundred kid-generated smiles is a great deal.

“It gives you such a good feeling to see those kids learn a little about fishing, and then really enjoy it,” he said. “If you are an outdoors person, you want to share that love with others. I think teaching a kid to fish is one of the best things you can do for them, and it’s something you hope they will be able to enjoy for the rest of their lives.”

TROUT STOCKING: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will release more than 98,000 rainbow trout at some 63 public lakes and ponds around the state this spring. These catchable-size trout are raised at the state fish hatcheries and are 10-13 inches long when released. The daily bag limit is five trout, and at some sites special youth-only fishing events take place in conjunction with the trout releases.

On April 13, Pearson Metropark in Oregon will hold a “Kids Fishing Day” after receiving its trout stocking. Kids only will be permitted to fish in the lake on the 13th.

The Swanton waterworks reservoir will be stocked with rainbow trout on April 11, while Olander Lake will be stocked on April 26.

FISHING REPORT: Monday’s temperature drop and chilly breeze did not diminish the anglers’ effort on the Maumee River as the walleye spawning run had the parking lots at the Orleans Park boat launch, Fort Meigs, Buttonwood Park, and Side Cut Metropark near capacity. Maumee Tackle reported that the water temperature was 44 degrees and that the clarity continued to improve. Fishing success rates were fair, with most anglers exiting the river at the Orleans boat ramp around noon having at least one fish on the stringer. Action on the Sandusky River was still relatively slow, with moderate fishing pressure, according to the ODNR. The water level was near normal, the clarity still poor, and the water temperature about 44 degrees. As the water continues to warm in both streams, the fishing is expected to quickly pick up.

Contact Blade outdoors editor

Matt Markey at:

or 419-724-6068.