COMMENT: Our kids are our fishing future

Teaching kids how to fish responsibly and sustainably and about the value of healthy aquatic habitat is critical to our fishing future, says Simon Fitzpatrick.

EVER since I was knee high to a grasshopper, I have been passionate about fishing and conservation. So, working with OzFish Unlimited and starting my own OzFish Tweed River Chapter in northern NSW, is a perfect fit for me. Every day I look forward to helping recreational fishers restore fish habitat across Australia. After all, better habitat equates to better fishing! But after recently volunteering to teach kids how to fish, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of hope for our fishing future.

The penny dropped as I stood there in front of 40 wide eyed kids. Fishing rods in hand, awaiting their next instruction. Blank canvasses yet to be illustrated. It dawned on me that the solution to our declining fish stocks lies in the hands of our future generations. Quite literally, it is our kid’s hands that will give direction long after we have gone. But for the next generation to want to make a difference, we need to spark their interest. We need teach them how to fish! We need to teach them to fish responsibly and sustainably. And we need to teach them about the value of healthy aquatic habitat. Instilling these values at a young age will help ensure they protect their own interests in the future.

Fishcare clinics teach kids about every aspect of fishing and habitat restoration.

If we can give our kids positive experiences with a fishing rod in their hands we are half way there. The next step is to empower them with a sense of hope. By teaching them proper catch and release techniques, we will enrich our kids with the belief that their small actions can make a difference. Teaching them to use circle hooks and to only take what they need will instil them with the fundamentals of sustainability.

After hearing about the Fishcare clinic in NSW, I was excited to sign up as a volunteer. As a Fishcare volunteer you teach kids the basics of fishing and sustainable fishing techniques. We show them casting, knot tying, fish identification, fish handling, size and bag limits. We then take the kids out on the water to practise their new skills. If smiles are the payment, then I am a wealthy man.

Once our kids are hooked on fishing, we can turn their attention to the bigger picture; the environment. A simple concept that all kids can understand is ‘better habitat means better fishing.’ A concept young minds are quick to take up. By simply planting a tree on the river bank or picking up rubbish before leaving your fishing spot, kids begin to get the idea. Explaining to them why these things are important, helps them connect with and appreciate the environment.

Ozfish has encouraged many of tomorrow’s anglers to become passionate habitat heroes through local events.

Back at work I realised that both OzFish and fishing clinics are both ideally positioned to deliver the message to kids across Australia. Events such as Gone Fishing Day provide an opportunity for fun family day that combines habitat restoration activities and fishing clinics. In NSW, OzFish Chapters have hosted Fishcare workshops where the kids not only get to wet a line and learn about sustainable fishing, but also get the opportunity to restore habitat by planting a tree. There is also plenty of scope to bring these activities into schools – a vision shared by many including OzFish Unlimited.

In fact many of our chapters such as Sunraysia in Victoria and our team in North West NSW have encouraged tomorrow’s anglers to become passionate habitat heroes through local events. And last year OzFish Richmond River Chapter initiated the Wetland Education Pilot Program, teaching kids about conservation of wetlands. Several local schools participated in the program which was a huge success. The students especially enjoyed the bird watching with binoculars and water bug identification using the microscopes. The fascination and enthusiasm the kids showed was priceless. The program even satisfied the school’s curriculum!

The opportunities are limitless. OzFish Chapters and fishing clinics across the country are always looking for volunteers. It is important work and whether you are a fisher or just a lover of the outdoors I encourage you to get involved. Our kid’s minds are poised and waiting for your direction. Let’s fill them with the hope and the fishing future they deserve.  


Simon Fitzpatrick is a Project Officer with OzFish Unlimited, Chapter President of OzFish Tweed River, NSW, and a Fishcare Volunteer

OzFish Unlimited is a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping millions of Aussie recreational fishers take control of the health of their rivers, lakes and estuaries to shore up the future of the sport they love. OzFish Unlimited acknowledges the ongoing support and funding from Australia’s greatest boating, camping and fishing store BCF that keeps us swimming. OzFish Unlimited partners with fishers and the broader community to invest time and money into the protection and restoration of our waterways, counteracting decades of degradation.

Links to water monitoring programs and fishing clinics for kids;


Western Australia

New South Wales

South Australia



What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.