Written by David Beasley, Lead Fisheries Biologist
Ponds and lakes provide great opportunities for homeowners and their families to build relationships with neighbors in their community. The Homeowners Association (HOA) of Brookside in Warrenton, VA is one community in particular that deserves recognition for their efforts. They are committed to providing both kids and adults in their community with fishing, and other outdoor opportunities, that are making a noticeable difference in the neighborhood.
A summer fishing tournament for kids living in the neighborhood is the main attraction helping their community leaders build momentum with their fishing program. This annual event was initiated by both members within the community and the community’s developer. The dedication and support from these community leaders has been fun to watch and a joy of which to be a part of. The great thing is, what they are doing can be replicated in other communities across our country.
Providing kids with fun fishing opportunities, while also rewarding their efforts by providing prizes and small giveaways, has worked well to generate additional excitement for youth fishing. As participants catch fish throughout the tournament, they are measured and recorded. The tournament lasts two to three hours and prizes are given out to the top five contestants of each age category. In addition to prizes, the HOA of Brookside has plenty of food and drinks available during a set intermission to provide a nice break in the action. The fishing event is just long enough to catch fish and have a good time, while keeping the children’s attention.
Organizers of the event also provide a great example by making the most out of their time with the kids. To help children become better stewards of the environment and nature, they hand out “Leave No Trace” fishing hangtags for the kids to take home after the tournament. The hangtags mention the seven principles of “Leave No Trace” created by the Center for Outdoor Ethics. These help everyone understand basic principles they should follow to become better stewards of the outdoors.
If you are thinking of planning similar fishing events, it can seem overwhelming if you try to get every detail perfect. The reality is, the kids are going to get out and go fishing; and, regardless of how the event is organized, they will have a good time as long as you consider these important key items:
1. Are there fish for the kids to catch? Bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish and trout are the most common fish species that work well for youth fishing events. They may occur naturally or can be purchased for stocking.
2. Do the kids own fishing gear? If they do not and are not able to purchase the gear, consider budgeting some funds to purchase basic gear that can be borrowed for the event. Sporting goods stores may sometimes be able to donate some equipment as well.
3. Do you have prizes to give out? Inexpensive fishing rods, lures and tackle box’s, even gift cards, are all great prizes. As with the fishing gear, you can likely find businesses that are willing to make donations.
4. Who doesn’t like a fun snack? Have food and beverages available for a nice break in fishing.
So who organizes all of this? Usually one or two volunteers are needed to share the responsibility of making the event a success. Although the event comes together easily with community and volunteer support, one of the biggest hurdles will be pinpointing individuals willing to put in the time. As the event gains momentum however, you will likely find that more people are willing to become involved. But, until that occurs, you will need to seek out those homeowners or board members who are willing to initiate the fishing program. Remember, a successful event from start to finish is meant to be fun. Have a great time creating bonds through outdoor community fishing.
Contact a professional fisheries biologist to discuss fish stocking, automatic fish feeders, habitat and improved pond water quality to enhance your upcoming community fishing event. 888-480-LAKE (5253)
David Beasley is a Lead Fisheries Biologist and Regional Manager with SOLitude Lake Management. Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.