The Biggest Threat To The Future Of Fishing In America.

By: Joseph Simonds on March 9, 2016
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the future of kids fishing

“Kids are not going to respect or protect an environment they don’t spend any time in…”

I came across a quote very similar to this in a recent article by Marlowe Fairbanks in the Winter edition of the Guy Harvey Magazine outlining the need to get kids outside fishing.

The article was about a really cool program the FWC is pursuing to get kids outside in conjunction with helping teach more kids about respecting the water like so many of us were raised to do when we were growing up.

And this scary trend of young kids not spending enough time outdoors ties in closely with the BIG THREAT to fishing that I want to share with you today…

But before I reveal the biggest threat to the future of fishing here in America, I want you to imagine the following…

Imagine walking up to 100 random anglers at any fishing event or outdoors convention and asking them the following question:

“What do you think is the biggest threat to the future of fishing?”

My guess is that you would hear answers such as:

  • Pollution (like the Okeechobee run-off fiasco that is causing every angler in Florida to despise Big Sugar)
  • Politicians who don’t like fishing placing overly restrictive regulations on anglers
  • Restrictions on certain fishing areas (like completely shutting off fishing in some areas)
  • Over-fishing of certain species
  • Commercial fishing hurting the recreational anglers

Now, not to take away the importance of an of these topics (as they are all big threats to the fishing industry), but they could all pale in comparison to the long-term threat that I want to discuss below.


Because if the problem that I am going to outline gets out of hand, none of these issues above really matter that much in the long-term big scheme of things.

Let me explain by telling you a true story.

Twenty-five years ago, my brother Luke and I spent almost every waking sunlit hour outside around the lake.

I was 12 and Luke was 10 back then, and the lake we grew up on was a small lake called Lake Link in Winter Haven, FL.

After school and on the weekends we mowed yards and pulled weeds for a couple of hours a time (just long enough to earn us enough money for new fishing lures), and you could see the two of us out on the water (either fishing from shore or fishing from our old green canoe) pretty much any given afternoon or weekend.

But it wasn’t just the two of us out there on the water…

There were numerous neighborhood kids out on the lake fishing as well… young and old, we were all out enjoying our favorite past time.

Fast forward twenty-five years, Luke and I still keep in touch with many of the neighborhood kids that we grew up fishing with.

And although we have all gone our different ways, many of us live in different cities, and we rarely see each other (except through Facebook), here are a few things that I noticed we all have in common after 25 years:

  • We all still love fishing today
  • We all spend money to have a fishing license
  • We all spend money on fishing tackle every year
  • We all have either a boat, kayak, paddleboard (or all three of them in a few cases)
  • We are all teaching our own kids how to fish, why they should respect the water, and why fishing can be such an amazing experience at a young age.
kids fishing

This is a picture of one of my daughters fishing on Lake Link about a year ago (the same dock Luke and I grew up on).

Sounds great right?

It is. And all of this helps support the fishing industry not only today, but for years to come as we grow older and continue to spend more money on fishing, buying bigger boats, etc.

Here is what is happening at the same lake today.

I visited Lake Link multiple times last year right before my parent’s finally sold the home that we grew up on.

On one of my visits, I walked around our old dock and the stomping grounds that were responsible for so many fond memories, I noticed something that really concerned me…

There was not a single kid outside fishing.

I even got in the canoe that my dad still kept at the house and paddled around all three lakes (there are two other lakes connected to Lake Link), and I didn’t see a single kid out fishing.

Not a single one!

There were no dads outside on the banks with their kids, there were no kids out in kayaks or canoes, etc.

Just two older men in a pontoon boat was all I saw.

Now this could have just been a rare weekend when all of the kids in the neighborhood had some party or baseball game they were all at, but from hearing from countless anglers all over the country saying that they rarely see kids outside with fishing poles and tackle boxes in hand, I don’t think it was.

And this is just one of the many millions of lakes in America that are all seeing similar trends in fewer kids outside fishing.

Note: this was a Saturday and the weather was very nice that day.

The War On Fishing

kids fishing

Image by Lindsey Potter showing her son disappointed that he can’t find a safe place to fish due to the “Big Sugar” Lake Okeechobee issue here in Florida

If you’ve made it this far with me, you probably have picked up that the BIG THREAT that I am referring to is the lack of kids fishing today (and into the future).

Here is why getting kids fishing today is so critical to the future of fishing in America…

Let’s face it, the fishing industry is constantly at war (regardless if you have ever thought of it that way or not)

The fishing industry faces:

  • Battles with the government and leaders making decisions about our natural waterways, fishing limits, etc
  • Battles with big corporations creating pollution in our waters (like the BP Oil Spill and the Big Sugar water run-off)
  • Battles with commercial fishing regulation vs recreational fishing
  • Battles with extreme animal rights activists like PETA
  • Battles with developers over habitat loss due to new construction
  • And many more

With war, the side that usually wins has more of the following two things than their opponent:

  • More Money
  • More Troops (aka Bigger & Badder Army)

And although there have been battles won with by determined armies with fewer troops and less money than their opponent over the centuries, these battles always result in crazy amounts of bloodshed, fatigue, and a LONG uphill battle.

So what does all of this have to do with kids fishing?

Well, kids are the future army of anglers out on the water.

They are the future for protecting the water, respecting the water, spending money on fishing, and supporting fishing from negative forces any way they can.

At some point, the kids today will be parents with kids of their own.

And eventually, these kids will be grandparents with two generations of kids below them… while people like you and me will most likely be long gone by then.

So let me ask you this.

If the kids today don’t appreciate, respect, or enjoy fishing, what do you think the chances are that their kids will enjoy fishing?

Taking it a step further, what do you think the chances of their grandkids enjoying fishing are?

How about their great-grandkids?

If there is just a single “generation gap” of kids not fishing like the generation before it, the results could be catastrophic in the long-term.

Not only is it less money in our war chest to support the waterways and the fishing community, but every kid that never fishes is one extra person that might be joining (or even starting their own) a non-profit group that tries to put an end to fishing in America.

Trust me, the “fish haters” are already out there, and it is only going to get worse in this crazy society we live in.

Albert Einstein famously said…

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world”

Well, the first scenario I mentioned above (the people my age continuing to love fishing and teaching their young kids how to fish) creates a positive compounding interest that has immense power over time.

Pretty simple to understand right?

For every child I teach to love fishing, they are more likely to teach their kids and pass it on down the line, etc.

But on the other hand, a generation of kids that don’t fish begins to create a negative compounding interest over time.

Their kids don’t fish, those kids rub off on other kids, and before you know it, there is an entire generation of kids that are against fishing, and not for it.

Few kids fishings equals a smaller army and a smaller war chest of money to take on the battles that the fishing industry will continue to face down the road.

It also means fewer jobs in the fishing industry. People will get laid off, mom and pop tackle stores and small marinas will be forced to close…

We can’t let that happen to our industry, and this really is a serious threat that isn’t getting enough attention.

The great news is that there are amazing fishing camps and weekend fishing tutorials being put on by different agencies (like the FWC here in Florida) that are making a pretty decent dent in getting more kids involved with the outdoors and fishing.

But it still is incredibly tough to attract enough people to these fish camps, as it’s just not as simple as posting the fishing camp dates up on Facebook and watching floods of people showing up on the weekend.

It takes some serious marketing and persuasion to get parents and kids that have never fished before to these type of events.

We can’t ignore the reality in that kids are spending more time in front of a TV, on their phones, and being entertained with the unlimited amount of choices at their fingertips today instead of sitting on a dock or boat with a fishing pole in hand.

With how realistic video games have become combined with how many choices the kids of today have, it is certainly going to be a battle to get them to drop their devices and pick up a fishing pole…

We must all unite and start encouraging as many kids in this next generation to get out and enjoy the experience of catching a fish.

If we don’t, the chances of our kids and grandkids enjoying the same kind of experiences and memories out on the water dwindle with every generation gap.


kids fishing

Kids are the future of fishing in America.

And it’s our job as parents, leaders, and anglers:

  • To teach kids how to fish
  • To get them outside
  • To get the devices and cell phones out of their hands more often and replace it with a fishing pole
  • To help them understand the importance of the water, of conservation, and why fishing is important

The “big threat” is that a single “generation skip” (in terms of an entire generation fishing significantly less than the generation before it) could be the slippery slope that continues to shrink the fishing industry, leaving us with less power and fewer dollars to fight the daily battles.

Finally, I hope you will listen in (or download the free PDF – Click Here To Get The PDF) to the podcast discussion we had on this very topic below.

And we really want to hear from you in regards to your thoughts on this (including any ideas to help, great events or groups that are making a difference, etc).

Please let us know in the comments.

P.S. – If you think your angler friends or fishing networks would like to see, then please Tag them or Share this with them. Let’s turn this into a positive compounding interest article. It would mean a lot to all of us.

P.P.S. – Below you will see the transcript from the 35-minute podcast discussion Luke and I recently had on this subject of getting kid’s outside fishing. You can Click Here To Get The PDF of the transcript emailed to you, or click either button below to download the podcast to listen on your phone, car, etc.

fish strong podcast with lunkerdog

stitcher fish strong podcast

Episode 11 – “The Biggest Threat To The Future Of Fishing”

All right. We are back. Another episode of the Fish Strong Podcast. I am your host Joe Simonds, and we have Luke Simonds right here as well. Hey there Luke.
Hey. Hey.
If you don’t know who Luke and I are, we are the founders of a saltwater fishing apparel company called Salt Strong. And if you’ve been following along with us so far in this podcast series, this is episode number eleven if you can believe it. In the first 10 episodes, we interviewed some really, really cool people. People who are doing some big things in the fishing industry, from disruptors, to entertainers, educators, etc. And now that we’ve hit the 10 mark with the podcasts, Luke and I wanted to do just one episode here by ourselves to discuss something very important. So we’re not going to have a guest on this one, but we are going to be talking about a topic that’s near and dear to our hearts, not to mention, something that the vast majority of anglers might not be thinking about. In the big scheme of things, I can’t think of a more important thing for us to focus on as anglers, and I’m going to show you why what we’re discussing today is the biggest threat to the future of the fishing industry, and that includes salt water and freshwater fishing.
Yep, and what we are going to discuss is easy to overlook because it’s not making the headlines.
Great point Luke.
The near-term problems to the fishing industry are obviously important and need to be focused on, but just like a lot of things, if you only focus on near-term, you can lose sight of the bigger picture, so that’s definitely what we want to focus on in this podcast.

Yes. And just so you know, when Luke and I started Salt Strong, our first goal was never to be a big apparel company. Ironically, we’re quickly turning into a decent size apparel company with the crazy momentum we have there, but the big goal of Salt Strong, and the underlying theme and mission will never change… and it hasn’t changed since day one. We’ve always said that our big mission is teaching the world how to fish. And that ties in with the big problem we will be discussing today.First, let’s talk about the short-term problems the fishing community is facing that Luke mentioned. And please know that I believe these are critical things, so don’t think that I am trying to say they are not important, because they are.

Correct, they are definitely big issues facing the world community, but again they’re more near- term or short-term threats.

Short-term thank you. That’s a much better way to say it Luke.Now I know that if I took a microphone today and went to any boat show or a fishing even (like ICAST) where there’s going to be a lot of anglers, and I asked just ten random people or even a hundred people, “Tell me the number one threat to fishing today.”, I bet we hear things from like pollution. Especially with all of the uproar about this Lake Okeechobee thing. It’s a hot topic, and it should be. It’s a shame what’s happening there.

Once again, I’m not trying to say these issues are not important, because they are incredibly important issues that we should fight tooth and nail on.

However, issues like the Lake Okeechobee run-off are just short-term things.

I’m also sure that would hear some feedback about fishing limits, like limits on certain species (like the snapper limit), grouper, and all of that stuff that we see in these Facebook posts all of the time.

We’d probably hear about off-limit areas. Down in the Keys, there are areas (and there’s going to more throughout the Gulf and the Keys) that you just can’t fish at all for different reasons.

We’d probably hear feedback about over-fishing and commercial fishermen, and that is obviously an important thing. Luke, what else you’d think we’d hear?


You pretty much covered it. I would say that the biggest short-term threat (especially right now) just as far as looking at online forums & Facebook groups about fishing here in Florida is the Lake Okeechobee run-off. It’s a huge deal obviously, it is getting a ton of attention fortunately, and hopefully we’ll make it end sooner, than later.I would say that would be the top one now. And as you said before, over-fishing in some areas, over-regulation. Sometimes, there’s too much regulations, sometimes, too little, and that obviously fluctuates over time. Again, I think you covered the biggest hitters.


Of course if Alex Fogg, the lionfish killer had been one of the people we asked, he would say, “Lionfish would be the biggest threat.” Haha. Make sure to check out that podcast interview with Alex we did last week. The guy has literally killed over ten thousand lionfish. Pretty awesome.So now I want to put all of these threats to fishing in perspective…

I’m willing to bet that in five years from now, we won’t be talking about Lake Okeechobee. However, sadly, something with Big Sugar and nasty water will certainly happen again here in Florida. It is not the first time, and it won’t be the last…

And to show you evidence of why I believe the Okeechobee incident will quickly be forgotten in a few years, let’s talk briefly about an example that Luke and I were discussing this morning.

The BP oil spill.

Do you remember what year that happened? Luke and I thought it was ten years ago.
In reality, it was less than six years ago!

In fact, we’re about to hit the six-year anniversary as the spill took place in April of 2010. I mean it’s crazy this horrific spill happened that recently in the big scheme of things, yet we hardly hear any chatter about it today?

Like you, I remember the BP Oil spill pretty vividly. Luke and I had not started Salt Strong yet, but I mean, there was people in the Gulf that made a living off of fishing those waters, and that goes for restaurants, to bait shops, to captains and commercial guides.

And they thought their life was over… heck, we all thought that fishing the Gulf was over, that it would never be the same.

It was such a hot topic that it became one of the bigger global topics during that time.

So isn’t it a bit eye-opening that an incredibly serious threat to fishing that we all lived through was only five years ago, and yet, we don’t even talk about it anymore…

And it’s not to say that the BP Oil spill hasn’t impacted the fishing. But I think that if you ask most of the guides and stuff, they’d say, “It’s almost back to normal.”

With all the money that BP had to give the fishing industry (which I’m glad they had to pay up as the Gulf deserve every bit of it), some could argue it’s almost become better that it was with all of the new reefs and conservation money that the Gulf states have made

Yeah, it was a terrible thing.

Yet, here we are five, six years later and no one’s even mentioning it, except for the people that are still getting cash from it to do good things for the environment.Now that we are all on the same page in terms of long-term vs short-term perspective, let’s take a step back and talk about what we consider the biggest long-term threat to fishing .

It’s a simple as this…

It’s not getting enough kids and enough families out fishing.

Let me explain a little bit more what I mean by that, and why this is so impactful.

Basically any short-term threat like all the negative impacts that we’ve talked about so far all revolve around money. From the BP Oil Spill to Big Sugar, it’s all about money. In particular, doing sloppy work that ends up killing marine life all because someone up at the top wants to make more money in a shorter amount of time.

You see, none of these are about wrong or right… And whether we want to admit it or not, I imagine that the people running the big sugar companies in Lake Okeechobee are probably not bad people.

Meaning, they’re not out there saying, “Oh yeah, we’re trying to kill fish.” They obviously trying to justify it by saying things like, “Just think about how many jobs and how many families they support with Big Sugar”…

Regardless, at the end of the day, the only reason these horrible events are even happening comes down to money.

Money can’t but happiness, but it sure can get some things done in Congress, with lobbyist, etc. Money equals power when it comes to big business.

Now I’m not trying to say that we all need to be money hungry, but money does a lot of things for the fishing industry.

Every time someone buys a fishing license, every time someone buys marine supplies like boat gas and tackle, all that money is helping out our industry. It gives us more power as an industry.

So how does that fit in with kids fishing?

Here is why I’m so scared and why I think the lack of kids fishing today is such a big threat.

This next generation, these young kids today, they’re not out fishing. In particular, they’re not fishing the way that we were.

Luke and I are in our mid-thirties, and when we were ten years old, fishing is all we did.

We were out on our lake every single week of the year. We grew up on this lake called Lake Link in Winter Haven, Florida. We were bass fishing at the time, and that’s what we did.

If you looked out on Lake Link (or the connecting lakes called Otis and Little Lake Otis) on any afternoon, not to mention the weekends, you’d see us out there. And it wasn’t just us! You’d see a bunch of other kids out there fishing as well.

We fished anywhere we could as kids. W fished from the shores many days because we didn’t have boats. Eventually we acquired little old cheap canoes, but we were out there fishing any way we could.

Fast forward 20-25 years…

If you look around that same lake today, you’ll rarely see any kids out there fishing. The entire shoreline is barren. I was actually just there not to long ago on a beautiful day outside, and there were no kids out there… they were inside, they were playing video games, they were doing other things.

Today, there are so many choices for kids to do inside with all the technology, that they’re not out fishing.

And with fewer kids fishing, that means fewer people spending money on tackle, fishing licenses, etc. You know, all of the money that ultimately give the fishing industry power and influence.

Here’s why this is such a big deal long-term for the fishing industry.

If we have less money going into this industry today, that means fewer jobs for the fishing industry, that means less influence, that means less money to hire lobbyists, and that mean fewer ways to defeat things like this big sugar.

And this problem COMPOUNDS as these young kids today grow older and become parents, because now you have fewer people buying boats, fewer families going out on the water to fish, and of course even fewer kids being taught how to fish in that next generation…

In other words, if there’s a generation gap in fishing, it’s not ever going to get better. The whole fishing industry will continue to shrink, and shrink, and shrink.

It also leaves the fishing industry even more susceptible to attacks from some of these groups that are out there trying to target and put down fishing like PETA.

At the end of the day, you have to have new anglers coming through the ranks for the fishing industry to grow and to evolve. And if there is a generation skip in terms of this young generation today not excited about fishing, the overall long-term future for fishing starts to look bleak…

Yeah, if the kids right now don’t get involved in fishing, then they’re going to raise their kids to do other non-fishing related activities as well. Things like video games and who knows what else with the way technology is going. Moreover, if there is a generation gap, it will be more and more difficult to get those people back.

Absolutely, and why would a mom or dad that never grew up fishing teach their kids how to fish?Fishing for the most part has been something that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Our great, great grandfather taught his son how to fish, he taught his sons how to fish, he taught his two sons how to fish, and then our dad taught his sons (us) how to fish.

In our family (like most) fishing has just naturally been passed down from generation to generation, and our best memories were out there fishing with our dad and our grandfather.
That’s one reason that Luke and I have been so adamant about our mission to teach the world how to fish. And as you can imagine if you made this this far, most of it starts with kids and the parents of today.

I did this recently and I encourage you to as well the next time you walk into a Bass Pro or Cabela’s…

I walked into the Bass Pro, and I tried to envision that I was just a single dad with two kids that I wanted to take fishing for the first time. Problem is I don’t have any idea where to start.

Imagine that your dad never taught you how to fish as a kid, so you are basically starting over fresh.

Well, here was my experience in Bass Pro… and for the record, I’m not picking on Bass Pro, this is going to be the same anywhere, unless you go into an Orvis or some very niche fishing shop… but with any of these big box fishing or outdoors stores, I imagine the scenario is pretty similar to mine…

Overall, I was in the Tampa Bass Pro for about an hour and a half with my two kids. I was walking around in the aisles, I was looking at stuff, I was picking up stuff, and not a single employee, not a single person there even offered to come help me out, or ask questions, et cetera. How does that incentivize me? How does that help me get my kids out there and catch fish?

And there is just so much stuff there, I wouldn’t know where to begin if I were a single dad and it was my first time trying to teach my kids fishing.

That’s why were so adamant about doing everything we can to get both kids and their parents out there excited about fishing, because I’m telling you, if there is a big generation gap in the youngest generation not growing up fishing, it is going to be devastating to the future of fishing.

All this other short-term stuff we mentioned, is not going to matter because we won’t have the money to fight it!

I really want to reiterate how important that is, and how important the fishing licenses are. We just did a blog on fishing licenses as the FWC, and we’re talking tens of millions of dollars every year just on the fishing licenses here just in the State of Florida. Not to mention all of the tackle, boats, kayaks, launching fees, etc. that come from the anglers that buy fishing licenses.

That’s a really important point Joe. That money from just the licenses alone goes directly to preserve the environment, including paying for the patrols who protect the waterways.

Yep. It creates jobs for the mom and pop tackle stores, the lure manufatrures, the guy making kayaks and boats by hands, and millions of other people in America.And if there is less people fishing, that money and those jobs slowly start disappearing…

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that we cut down the amount of people fishing by 20% because that next generation is a skip (which I think is very conservative if this next generation of kids isn’t fishing)

That means 20% of the mom and pop stores are going to have to close. That means a lot of these little marinas, the small lure makers, and the little boat ramps and stuff close..

And did you know that all those public boat ramps you see around America (fresh water and salt water) are all paid for by our fishing licenses. Could you imagine having at least 20% less boat access to your favorite places to fish? And trust me, there are groups out there like PETA, that would love to shut down every public boat ramp in America…

Sadly, more so than ever before, there are more people and more groups with lots of money that are against fishing.

A few of them would do anything in their power to shut down fishing altogether!

Hunting’s under the same kind of microscope, so this same message goes for hunting as well… If their dads and their granddads are out there teaching the next generation how to hunt, how to enjoy hunting, how to respect hunting, and to really enjoy the conservation of it all as well, then hunting has a bleak long-term outlook as well. And that means every battles just become that much tougher to win.

I hope all of this makes sense on what the big problem really is.

The fear is that there will be an ongoing domino effect that will almost impossible to reverse if this next generation isn’t fishing.

Not only does it mean less money and fewer anglers, it also means an INCREASE in young adults that will be AGAINST fishing.

Think about how your opinions on fishing would be drastically different if you never grew up fishing.

If you never had the experience of actually catching a fish, would you really respect fishing that much? I could see their point of view. If I never fished in my life, and the first video I ever saw was someone molesting a shark, or some of the dumb stuff that always seems to make the national and local news, I would probably think the same thing, “Oh, these guys are evil, there hurting animals.”

It’s easy for someone to see that side of it if they’ve never experienced what fishing is really all about, how important the experience is, and what it does to a family. It’s brought our family together, and that is the fear that if we skip a generation, all that stuff is going to slowly dwindle, and the whole industry just loses more and more power.

Yeah, I completely agree. If somebody hasn’t felt the experience of just bonding with friends and family out on the water, having fun fishing, then they are going to have a hard time grasping it just from what they see on the Internet. In fact, if they don’t have that experience, they will probably never understand it, so it’s really on us to help more and more people just get out there and have those experiences out on the water. Once they have just one, all it takes is one, and they’ll be hooked for life.

Agree. The other thing that I want to bring up is the belittling, the cutting down of other anglers, and just the cursing and stuff that’s out there online in fishing groups and forums.It’s the stuff that I’m sure most of these anglers would never say to someone’s face, but all of a sudden they’re behind a computer, and they’re on a Facebook group, or they’re on a forum, and they just want to sit there and belittle people, and be mister know-it-all. But what they probably don’t know is that negative comments and the ridiculous fighting online actually really hurts fishing.

Think about this angler…

A first time person out there goes fishing and they catch their first fish! Perhaps they don’t really know what it is, or maybe they just have a question about a certain knot, or perhaps it’s a question like “Hey, do I even need a leader here?” (things that we call had to learn at some point), so they pose a legit question in an online group or forum…

And then all of a sudden they are bombarded with smart-a$$ comments from all of the jack-wagons out there, just belittling and saying things like, “If you don’t know what that is, you have no business even fishing.”

We all had to start at the bottom. We all had to ask that question to our dad, or to our grandfather, our grandmother, or mom, etc… “Hey, mom, dad, what kind of fish is this?”

Someone taught us at some point.

You’re not born knowing every single fish in the sea or lake, and you aren’t born knowing how to tie every knot. I think we all need to remember to watch our mouths, and watch what we say to people, because it could end up discouraging someone from ever fishing again. I mean that’s obnoxious, right?


Completely! And it’s shocking how often that happens, where just the most basic of all teachings as far as growing up, “If you don’t have something nice to say, just don’t say it.”People completely forget about that when they happen to be behind the keyboard. To be negative, and to put somebody down who’s genuinely trying to seek help is the absolute worse possible thing to do, and that’s why we police our Facebook group so heavily. There’s no second chances. If we ever see that, they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

Yeah. I think this goes for not just the Facebook and fishing forums, but just anyone who is fishing, or anyone who could possibly be looked at as a fellow angler, we should support them, and we should encourage them.

We should unite together any way that we can. Now that doesn’t mean you have to like them or go fishing with them. I’m going to be very clear on that, because there’s going to be people out there that maybe you don’t like what they wear, or your don’t like something they said, or maybe they were just flat out wrong in terms of what they said or posted online, but at least encourage them.Especially, if they are out there trying to make a living. They’re out there trying to teach other people how to fish. More importantly, many of them are out there every day encouraging other young kids out there to fish, so don’t cut them down. It does nothing positive for the fishing industry.

Let me give you an example of a true story that just happened this past week.

We had an Instagram picture that we posted recently of a kid out fishing. I think the kid was nine or ten years old, and it was an awesome picture. He was out there fishing with an old Zebco and a big ol’ smile on his face. You know, the rod and reel that we all grew up fishing with probably here in Florida.

And some guy (an adult) started bashing this kid because he wasn’t using the right stuff. Meaning that he old tackle, and I was just like, you’ve got to be kidding me… I’m normally always pretty nice online, but I went back at this guy, and said, “Who are we to belittle a young ten year old boy for not having a $200 spinning reel?”

I mean, that’s obnoxious. We all started with e Zebco like this young kid, and you should have seen the smile on his face. He was having fun. It shocked me that someone would even put a negative comment on a picture like that. So even if you think of something negative to say it in the back of their head, don’t ever post that stuff out there. It does nothing to help the fishing industry.

We have to unite as anglers. I can’t say that enough. We have to unite as anglers to help this industry grow.

If not, it will be really hard to encourage enough young kids to get out there and fish today. Let’s face it, the kids today are not outside like we were. They’re not buying fishing licenses the way we were. They’re not out there fishing the way that Luke and I were twenty-five years ago.

They’re not mowing lawns to get money to buy lures like us.
You got it. That’s all we did. We pulled weeds for all of our neighbors. We pulled weeds and mowed grass. We did yard maintenance for anyone and everyone that would take us at a few bucks an hour. And we spent all of our money, all of our savings, (the little that we had) on fishing tackle and fishing gear.
I think I bought every single thing that Bill Dance ever used.
Amen, but not many kids are doing that today, right?
Let’s just take us. We grew up in central Florida. And if you went to our same schools that we went to asked these kids today how many of the fish regularly, it would be pretty pitiful. With the really young kids, it’s a small, small segment of people that are out there fishing, and that scares the heck out of me, and that’s why I firmly believe that the lack of teaching kids how to fish is the biggest threat to the future of all fishing.
I’d even take that a step further with the kids. That’s where in my opinion, decisions are most easy to go the wrong direction. Meaning that, I was completely addicted to fishing as a young kid. I went out with a rod and reel almost went every day. That’s all I did, and it really kept me out of trouble. I was going after bass, so all I could think about was if there’s a bigger bass under that log, or that weed… that was all I thought about. It just kept me out of trouble at a young age when others who weren’t fishing in particular, would find something else to do, and it might not be a positive activity.
Spot on man.
It’s not just protecting our industry, it’s really just helping get kids involved with fishing and being outdoors.
There are always ways to get in trouble, but they’re going to be staying out of more trouble than they would by doing something else.
Even if they’re buying every lure that they see on TV like I did, they won’t have money to go out and do bad things.

Absolutely. We talked about one obvious reason that the decrease in kid’s fishing in America is happening.First of all, there’s a technology boom, and that’s not going to stop, so we’re always going to be fighting against that. I mean, look at the video games today. It’s crazy how real they are, right? The only thing to me that’s going beat a video game (Unless virtual reality gets even crazier and you can feel every single thing) is that experience of actually being outside and feeling that nibble or a huge strikeon the end of your rod.

Yeah, just seeing the bobber going underwater beats any video game out there!

No doubt! You can’t replace that bobber going down feeling. So I would encourage everyone to get out there, to take your kids out if you have them, and encourage other people to get outside and wet a line.A second big contributor to the lack of kids fishing is the increase in divorced parents.

Divorces are at all-time highs, and let’s just go back twenty-five years ago when we were growing up … I mean, it was a big deal if all of a sudden one of your friend’s parents were getting divorced. I remember the very first friend that whose parents got divorced, and it was a really big deal twenty-five years ago. It was the talk of the town, and now it’s almost like you’re a talk of the town if you’re not divorced.

The majority of people in America sadly get divorced, and now that means both parents in most cases are having to work (if not already), and that means, less time for the parents to go out and do stuff like fishing. It also split time with parents.

Split time with parents (from what I have seen with my divorced friends) is either the parents are trying to do something over the top fun and take them to cool places, or they just let them sit inside and play the cool video games because they have too much going on in their life. Any of you divorced parents, or divorced friends out there that you know, encourage them to get their kid’s outside fishing … If you know how to fish, take them out there fishing with you. Have them bring their kids, and show them how much fun it is.

That’s going to be a big focus for Luke and I this year… specific fishing courses for kids, and even for divorced parents on where to start. I don’t want another divorced dad, or any dad or mom for that matter, to have to go into Bass Pro with their two kids and not having any idea where to start.


I completely agree, it’s so important just to take people out who don’t yet really know what to do, and just teach them the basics. You don’t have to go put them on a tarpon, or teach them how to hand-tie a fly.It could just be a simple as going to a neighborhood pond, with a bobber, a little hook, and show them how to dig up worms, and you can catch all the fish you want.

In fact, that’s exactly how we started. We had a little garden in the back where we lived in Winter Haven, and I would just dig up worms all the time. Joe and I would beg our parents to take us out there, and we caught all sorts or brim and bass with those garden worms, so it doesn’t have to be a huge fish. It doesn’t have to be handmade lure, it just has to involve just getting out there, and having a good time with friends and family.


That’s how it should start for your first time fishing. If your very first experience is offshore fishing for a marlin, you’re not going to appreciate all the small stuff. I’ve been offshore fishing quite a few times, and I don’t remember half the fish I’ve caught. They kind of blur. I remember the big ones, like my nice marlin I have here mounted, but a lot of them blur. But I still remember my first bass that I caught, and where I was, and who was with me. That’s powerful stuff that you can’t really replace, so I would encourage you to get the cheap fishing gear to start … I mean, we fished with cane poles before we moved up to a Zebco. We’d put bread on the end of a little small hook, those cane poles would just catch bream and bluegills until we were tired of doing it.Back to the kids fishing, this is how I know it’s bad out there…

I don’t remember the guys name that posted this picture in our private Facebook group, but he took a picture of these three young boys that had been riding their bikes, and they had just parked their bikes to fish a little canal there near his neighborhood with some inexpensive rod and reel combos.

And he posted the picture and said, “This reminds me of the good old days. How come we don’t we don’t see this anymore?”

Well, that picture was blowing up with likes and comments because everyone our age and older could relate with it. It’s what we did back then, yet, we rarely see it today. I mean, the mere fact that this guy had to stop his truck take a picture with his cell phone, and then post it on Facebook means that were not seeing it anymore… and that is what scares us.

Think about it when you drrive around. How often do you just see random kids outside fishing on a bridge, a canal, or a lake?

It’s scary when you think about how it used to be just fifteen years ago.

As I mentioned, I think a lot of it has to do with technology, the video games, and the fact that kids today have too many choices. Think of how many choices you have when you wake up in the morning as a kid today… just the amount of choices on your phone alone is mind-boggling.

It’s yet another reason we must teach kids how to fish and expose them to positive experiences out on the water. It’s the only thing that can truly compete with a video game in my opinion.


Technology is out there, it is obviously appealing to kids, and even to parents, because it’s easy. To go fishing, you actually have to put some time on the schedule. It could be simple as a hour if it’s a little nearby lake or pond, but you actually have to do something. You have to get out of your house, and make time for it.It can only be a simple as thirty minutes or an hour, just get our there, try to catch one fish. I used to love just catching the worms. That was almost as fun as they fishing in my mind. You remember Joe, you and I used to have contests on who could catch the biggest worms out there in the garden.

Again, it was the entire process that I loved. Just learn something new.

It just takes time, and is so, so important just to make that time.

Absolutely. Here’s what we’ll wrap up with… just kind of the steps if you will to make sure you go something out of this.One, is to take kids fishing. Encourage them to fish. Encourage their parents to take them fishing. And if you have a platform with a lot of anglers, start doing some teaching every once in a while.

Anything is better than nothing.

It could be simple as knots. I was in Wal-Mart and saw this young guy recently… He was probably about sixteen years old, and he was trying to get rod, and I could tell he wasn’t sure what he was doing. He’s looking at rods, and I ended up asking him, “Hey, do you need help?” Sure enough, he was going to meet with some friends, he needed a new fishing rod, and he had no idea about anything. So I ended up helping him get the rod, one that would fit his needs at the lowest cost. Then I helped him pick out an ideal line.I told him the different knots to use, and before too long this kid was all set. But without that basic knowledge, he would have literally had no clue. He was completely overwhelmed in Wal-Mart even though there’s really only one or two aisles of fishing stuff, but yet to somebody to who just hasn’t been around it and been exposed to fishing, and what’s involved, it can be extremely overwhelming.

And you know, it really didn’t take much time just to help that individual. I probably spent maybe five minutes with him total. Now, he was at least knowledgeable enough to know what to do, and then how to do it.

That’s awesome man.
Yeah, it doesn’t take much. It just takes just a little bit of help.

And what you did could spread to his other friends and go viral if you will. Meaning, what you just did with that one guy in five minutes could end up impacting a lot of people.Let’s just say he does go out catch a fish that day after you helped him. Now he’s excited, and he’s putting fish pics on his Instagram page and all that, and because of his excitement, he then teaches a couple of more friends, and then they teach friends, etc. All from that one experience in Walmart, you accomplished something that could impact this kid for life. That’s pretty cool when you think about it.

Yeah. That’s the only way to compete with the video games. Again, it takes time, and it just takes a little bit of knowledge, and unlike video games, that all you do is put the disc in, and start playing it, there’s a lot more moving parts in fishing. It doesn’t take much time to explain it, it just does take some time.

Agree. Let’s move on to the other big lesson here.The next lesson is just be positive to other anglers. We are in this together.

While online it is easy to say whatever you want, it’s easy to be the negative guy, and it’s easy to be the troll… but just be positive.

It does nothing to help out our industry, and it does nothing to help encourage kids to go out there and fish when you are negative.

The third lesson is money equals power when it comes to an industry.

As I mentioned earlier, money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure buy you a ton of power as an industry. And if the fishing industry has plenty of money and enough “troops” out there all supporting one big mission, it’s unstoppable.

On the other hand, if there’s a generation gap, and this next generation doesn’t fish, it’s almost inevitable that we’re going to be stoppable at some point… because the industry will continue to shrink, and shrink, and shrink.

That is why teaching kids to fish and making sure this next generation is outside fishing that is the biggest threat to the future of the fishing industry.

Without money and without power we can’t fight all these short-term things, like Lake Okeechobee. Think if we have a billion dollars less in 30 years from now as an industry.

That’s just a billion less just to fight this big sugar thing, and whatever might be next… Because in five years from now, and in 25 years from now they’ll be something else that we’ll all have to be fighting together. And I’d rather have more money, and more people behind it, than fewer. I’m sure you can all agree.


Exactly. It’s all about us as anglers in total. We might have different personalities and different types of styles of fishing, but just at the basic angler level, we all need to respect each other, to be kind to one another, and to lift each other up.I don’t know if you’ve said this one today Joe, but you say it often, “A rising tide, lifts all ships.” That’s perfectly applicable to this, where we just need to stand together, just knowing that we might have differences, but at least respect that we all love and appreciate, and respect fishing. And as long as we do that, the entire fishing industry benefits.


Yeah, that’s good stuff. If you’ve made it this far, we first of all, just want to thank you. We hope you got something out it, and we’d love to hear your feedback on this.Teaching kids how to fish and getting more of them outside is going to be our big initiative here at Salt Strong this year, and if you want to support us, we’d obviously love it.

Even just a simple as subscribing to our site, to our Fish Strong podcast, or buying some of our gear.

As I mentioned, our whole philosophy, our mission is to get as many families and kids out there fishing as possible, and to create as many experiences out on the water as possible.

We’ve got a really unique platform because we have a couple hundred thousand anglers per month on our site, and growing.

So if you want to share anything with us like any cool fishing tips, great videos, or a great blog on fishing, share it with us so we can spread the word with our audience.

Our e-mail is

Share anything with us. We would love to share your best content with our audience. We’ve done it with a few people that have sent over some great articles and videos, and it helped that content reach a ton of people. Help support fishing anyway you can.

Yeah, absolutely. Please do send in any and all fishing tips, advice, strategies, we will gladly, gladly share that with the community. Again, it’s not about trying to be right every time or trying to be the one to promote a certain idea. We just want to help provide anglers who are interested in learning how to catch a certain type of fish, do so in the easiest way possible.
Yeah. Awesome. Thank you again for all the support, and for listening to us. This has been episode eleven, with Joe and Luke Simonds, the Salt Strong brothers. We hope you got something out of it, and let’s go get some kids a fishing. Pa-pow.
Over and out.

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Tyler Bassett

This is really sad, I’m 14 and I love fishing. it’s the main reason why I was so on board when my dad asked me if I was cool with moving from Oklahoma to Florida last year. when I got here I was expecting for there to be at least a small community of kids who also fish. Sadly out of the 500 kids in my class I only know one who is also a fisherman. As much as I dislike this realization I feel lucky my dad had the understanding of why it was important and the patients to see it threw that I learned about this great sport. Thanks for letting me be a part of this community and keep up the good content. P.S. sorry if I had any grammatical errors I’ve never been very good at writing.


I live in CT. When I was a kid, a person only needed a license if there were over 16 and fishing in fresh water… Now, you need a DIFFERENT license for fresh and salt water. I know a few people that don’t fish any more because they cannot justify the cost of the license when they typically only go out a handful of times anyway. I take my nieces out as often as possible and got all five of them rods, reels, and gear from Amazon because it was waaaaaaaaay cheaper than going to a box store (all the mom & pops) are gone near me. For example, I got telescoping rods with reels and some gear for less than $20 each as apposed over $35. There is no need for a huge investment of money to still encourage the next generation of anglers! Thanks for the post, BTW.

Jared Plug

That sort of thing hasn’t happened as much in australia but we have less people fishing because the rules have become tighter. But one thing we do have is people sending out a message that they are planning a fishing day out. it happen in the east of aus that some big companies gave away a fairly cheap combo and stocked a local pond with trout and for a few dollars kids from anywhere could come in and fish.

Mel Crissey

Good “stuff” Joe and Luke. Recently I submitted some views on having a “kids” portion of the SaltStrong website where kids, under the age of 18, could have input regarding their own fishing experiences, in their own words. Remember why McDonald’s markets heavily to kids. To have those kids and their kids as McDonald’s long term customers—same for our very youngest anglers. Include, and encourage SaltStrong parents, to have their kids get immersed in fishing and be recognized on a special part of the SaltStrong website. Maybe even a SaltStrong Kids website. Give small incentives/recognition for their stories and pictures if warranted. I started my oldest grandsons and granddaughter on 404’s and gave them rewards of moving up to an inexpensive open faced spinning real once they caught two fish that weighed more than 1 1/2 lbs.
They locked onto that challenge and rewards. Kids love fun competition and angler parents will love seeing their kids posting their own “tips” and successes.

Keep up the good work.

Mel Crissey
P.S. You are totally right to call out the guys who cannot understand why someone doesn’t have a $200 baitcaster or spinning reel, or a $30,000 technical skiff or 25′ Contender. Those people need to go somewhere else.