It would be an understatement to say that I have loved fishing for as long as I can remember. Fishing has always been a passion of mine. Many of my fondest memories as a kid included a rod and reel in my hand, whether it was fishing with my grandfather, fishing in my pond, wading in creeks with friends on hot summer days, or strategically picking vacation campgrounds with ponds or streams nearby. I even took my girlfriend, now wife, fishing for our first date, when I was 18! I know for certain that I would not be where I am today, a professional bass fisherman, had my friend and his dad not taken me out on the Chesapeake Bay when I was 14. The first time I watched them skip a tube under a dock and rip out a big largemouth, it changed my life! Exposure to fishing as a child had a profound impact on my life and sculpting my future, so now as an adult myself, it is so awesome to get kids out on the water, as I did at that age.
Not long ago, with support from many sponsors, I had a blast hosting a very successful first-annual Youth Fishing Derby at Green Lane Park in Pennsylvania. Despite tough July fishing conditions, the kids weighed-in twelve fish during the two-hour event. One of the best parts was the opportunity to award the winners, several who held a rod for the first time at the event, with awesome prizes from my very generous sponsors. Every kid who participated received a prize pack, and there were smiles all around at the weigh-in scale throughout the morning. Prizes and sponsored gift packs included Favorite rods, a GCI camping chair, Hayabusa hooks, Ardent reels, Z-Man soft plastic baits, Striker koozies (for soda of course!), Univest Bank and SureShade swag. I look forward to hosting this event and other youth fishing opportunities annually, so be sure to tune into my social media pages on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for upcoming events.
Another awesome youth fishing event I had the recent opportunity to participate in was the Kurt Dove's Pro-Bass Camp that took place on Oneida Lake in New York. Oneida is very near and dear to me, so the opportunity to be involved in this youth event was pretty special. Thinking back to my childhood, it would have been a dream come true to attend such a camp, so it is very exciting to get to coach these young anglers, recognizing that I was in their shoes fifteen years ago, and have made a living out of my passion! After several days of practice on the water and seminars, it was pretty neat to see the kids compete in a tournament on the final day, independently using the skills as knowledge gleaned throughout the week to fill their limits, as I learned to do at their age from others passionate about the sport.
I hope everyone has a great summer and be sure to take a kid out fishing!