I hear so many people talking down about the “next generation,” just as my parents did about my generation and their parents did before them. I understand it. They are different. The technology is different. A good friend laments about the days he used to ride his bicycle, in Milwaukee, of all places, to go fishing after school and on weekends when he was a kid — and no one does that anymore.
Unfortunately, as he and I have agreed many times, it is difficult to trust people enough to let kids go off on their own in many places. I am not picking on Milwaukee, per se, but obviously, the dangers are greater in bigger cities. We just never know what might happen.
But the truth is, there are still kids out there who want to get out and go fishing. They want to get out in the woods, whether it is to look for mushrooms, get a snapshot of a bird they have yet to capture on camera, or to hunt any number of species of birds or animals our state has to offer.
I recently met one of those kids. He is truly the “real deal,” as they say. I got to know him through his mom. His name is Nate and he loves the outdoors. We connected through our love of fishing. His mom told me he really had no one in his life as passionate about the sport as I am, and of course I jumped at the chance to set up a fishing trip with him. I am hoping he will have the time to fish a couple tournaments with me this summer. For most kids just turning 12, it is a lot to ask to spend 8 hours in a boat doing that type of fishing. But the first time I met Nate, I knew he would take to it in a heartbeat.
Not only does this young man like to fish, but he is starting to make his own baits as well. He is just getting set up to really get going, but he has made some headway already. To me, I think that is one of the coolest things. I know several people who work in the industry, of course, and many of those people make baits right here in Wisconsin. This past weekend I got a chance to introduce Nate to some of those people.
Nate and his mom met us at a sports show and we talked about a lot of different baits and when and where we would use them. I was impressed by what he already knew. His mom said she was more of a live bait angler, but Nate was more advanced and understood the different baits and how to catch fish with them. It did not take me long to realize she was not kidding about his knowledge.
Not only did we talk about techniques, but also a bit about the baits he makes himself. One of the things that made me the most happy was to know that all of my friends, bar none, feel the same way about a kid with a desire to learn more about the outdoors and to put his own skills and talents to work. Everyone traded business cards with Nate, and also gave him some words of wisdom and advice. It was great to see. It made my heart feel good, not only to spend some time with a young man who is so enthusiastic, but also to see how much others enjoyed talking to a smart, articulate kid with the same interests.
I am happy to report, as most readers know, that there are still kids — plenty of kids — who are still into the outdoors. There are plenty of kids getting in the boat with grandpa, or up into a tree stand with mom. We might not always hear about them, but they are still out there. They may not be as numerous, true. But they are as passionate as we were, and as we are.
It was great to spend that day with Nate, and I am looking forward to getting him in the boat with me and seeing what he really knows. I want to see what he can learn from lake maps and how he takes to the electronics on the boat. I am looking forward to a great season on the water — and taking some time to teach, and learn from, one cool kid.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].