Fishing groups aim to reel in youths

  • Members of the Lakes Region Bass Chasers discuss their catches after a day fishing. Courtesy Jason Bean

  • Chris Chow and Logan Berube present the day’s catch during a competition put on by the Lakes Region Bass Chasers. Courtesy of Jason Bean

Monitor staff
Published: 8/18/2017 1:06:43 PM

For as long as he can remember, Jason Bean, a member of the Lakes Region Bass Chasers, has been fishing.

Bean’s father took him all over the place as a kid, fishing wherever they could.

“I loved it,” he said. “I was about 10 years old when I caught my first bass, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Bean and the Lakes Region Bass Chasers are part of a group of organizations across the state who are helping to grow the sport of fishing throughout New Hampshire.

Scott Decker, the Certified Fisheries Professional Program supervisor of the Inland Fisheries Division at the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, said New Hampshire offers prime destinations for fishers throughout the state.

“One of the main things we have is the Merrimack River,” he said. “It can be quite a resource for fishing bass and some trout. It can be fished in a boat, by wading and from the shore. It can satisfy people of all different types.”

Scott Doughty, a founding member of the New Hampshire Last Cast Club, said New Hampshire’s calling card for fishing is its bass population – especially in Lake Winnipesaukee.

“New Hampshire offers some of the best fishing for bass in the country,” he said.

For Doughty and Bean, sharing the great fishing the state has to offer is central to their goals, and the goals of their organizations.

Both fishermen said they were actively engaging in encouraging youth fishing in the area as a way to grow the sport. 

“We start them off as young as we can so they can appreciate the sport and the catch-and-release mentality,” Doughty said.

Every year, during the first weekend of June, the New Hampshire Last Cast Club hosts a youth fishing tournament in Hudson to help encourage young people to participate in the sport.

“We focus on the younger group,” Doughty said. “It’s really focused on 12 and under, and really getting them introduced to fishing.”

Similarly, Bean said the Lakes Region Bass Chasers have started youth fishing events to help get young people fishing – something he said has been successful because of the rapid growth of high school fishing teams in the state.

Bean said there are nearly 40 kids who are signed up to participate in youth tournaments through the organization.

“We’re really putting the focus back on getting kids out from in front of the screen,” he said. “Getting them to the outdoors so they can learn to respect nature, learn what wildlife is all about.”

In addition to encouraging fishing through youth tournaments, both organizations engage in conservation efforts to help maintain the lakes and rivers where the fish live to help keep the sport’s growth.

“Every club has to do some sort of conservation project throughout the year,” Bean said. “There’s grant money we get from our national sponsors that allow us to do things like tagging studies.”

All these efforts were aimed at helping to bring the sport and exploring nature into the mainstream.

“It’s a diversion from the stress of everyday life,” Decker said. “We can go out there and we can take a fishing rod (and fish).”

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