Youth Fishing Teaches Children FundamentalsJun 10, 2016 10:52AM ● By Kelly Cannon
Kids learn how to cast during the youth fishing program. —Josh Allred
By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]
Every year, the Sandy City Parks and Recreation Department sponsors a youth fishing program, one of the most popular youth programs in the department. Children from ages six to 14 are taught the fundamentals of fishing during the six-week course. All the classes are taught at Grandpa’s Pond.
“The hope is they will learn the basics at this pond and then they’ll go out and fish at bigger ponds,” Josh Allred, the recreational coordinator at Sandy City Parks and Recreation Department, said.
Allred, who has been teaching the class for the past four years, said the goal of the program is to teach kids the value fishing can bring someone while also teaching them how to be responsible and how to protect natural resources.
Each class is an hour and a half long. The first 45 minutes is devoted to instruction. Over the six weeks, the kids learn how to cast, how to tie knots, the biology of the fish, different techniques used to catch more fish and the different kinds of bait and hooks that can be used. The kids also learn the basics of how to clean and gut a fish.
The second half of the class is devoted to the kids actually fishing. The Department of Natural Resources dumps fish into the pond every year, mostly trout and catfish.
Allred said the program is extremely popular. In years past, they’ve had to turn kids away. One year when they didn’t cap the number of kids who could enroll, there were over 70 kids.
“That’s just too many,” Allred said.
Now the classes hover around 40 kids and the slots fill up fast. Allred said he believes it’s because of the value the kids get.
“It’s only $15 for six instructional days,” Allred said. “That’s three to four hours of personal fishing instruction.”
At the end of the course, the group hosts a fish fry. While the main course is hot dogs, the group does spend some of the money on purchasing salmon, trout and catfish to fry up. Each kid can have a taste of the fish.
“It’s a chance for them to try fish, sometimes for the first time,” Allred said.
At the end of the program, the kids also receive a T-shirt, a tackle box and an instructional booklet provided by the Department of Natural Resources. Allred explained the booklet was to help refresh the concepts of fishing to the kids when they go out on their own to fish.
The group demographic is varied with a wide range of ages and gender. Allred said he often finds it’s the girls in the group who are less squeamish when it comes to cutting worms in half and putting them on hooks, while the boys tend to be too grossed out to immediately try it.
“It makes it quite funny,” Allred said.
The youth fishing program is a parent-participation course, meaning parents are encouraged to stick around and help their kid with the fishing. Allred said the program is also great for teaching parents about fishing.
“A lot of parents don’t know how to fish. They end up learning a lot about how to fish from coming to the classes with their kids,” Allred said. “For just $15, it’s hard to beat that value.”
There is an additional cost if the kid is 13 years or older. The state of Utah requires anyone 13 years old or over to get a fishing license. These licenses can be purchased online at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), at a variety of retail stores or over the phone with the DWR.
Allred said he hopes the kids who participate in the program enjoy trying something new. He also hopes the kids will continue to go fishing as they grow up.
“There are those who really grab hold of it and it can be a real foundation for them,” Allred said.