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Vote for Fishing

Twenty-four million adults in America who own a fishing rod haven’t been fishing this year! Think back over the past months. Are you one of these "lapsed" anglers?

One thing is sure: People haven’t quit fishing because they are spending more time following political races. Both voting and fishing are experiencing a decade-long decline in participation.

You may have good reasons for not voting, but why in the world would you quit fishing?

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation surveyed a cross-section of Americans about their fishing habits. According to the survey, 12 percent never started, 30 percent are avid anglers and 30 percent used to fish, but don’t anymore.

Respondents said the most common barriers to going fishing are a lack of time and a competition with other family activities that are easier to do and don’t take as much time.

I wonder whether those other activities strengthen family values as much as fishing does. I hesitate to say family values because the term has been used so much it has lost much of its impact.

However, no one can deny that family bonding is important. I doubt whether a day that passes with one child logged onto a computer, another child playing soccer and mom and dad working in the yard or cleaning the house provides a family with feelings of mutual commitment and togetherness.

Conversely, time spent on the water fishing connects families. They spend the day having fun together. People tend to forget the wonders of fishing. Those who have tried fishing again after a long time away from it have discovered that they laugh more when fishing and that fishing brings back floods of good memories from their youth.

The trick to enjoying fishing is not to be too concerned about what you catch. In the end, most people go fishing to catch up, not catch fish. You don’t have to fill a bucket or stringer to reconnect with your family. It’s enough that you share some time together in a relaxed setting.

Starting early next spring, you will begin seeing television ads designed to reinvigorate the public’s interest in fishing. The ads and the national campaign’s slogan, "Water Works Wonders," will try to "lure" you back on the water with a rod in your hands and a boat beneath your feet. Some of the ads will tug at your heart, invoking memories of the good experiences you had fishing.

Do you need a campaign to restart your fishing engine, or would a request from a family member or friend inspire you to go? Why wait for the request? Why not dig out the old rod and reel and surprise the family with a fishing trip?

You’ll create memories that your family will savor in later years and will strengthen those family values that we agree are so important. And, although I can’t guarantee it, you might even add some healthy food to the dinner table! Here’s something else you can bank - or boat - on: You will remember catching or losing a big fish a lot longer than you will remember losing or winning a soccer game.

Jerry M. Conley, Director

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