Fishing program for youth to target ecology, environment


CORVALLIS - A number of improvements, including an increasing emphasis on resource protection, are in the works for the Master Angler Program.

The statewide sportfishing program aimed at youth is a partnership of the Oregon State University Extension 4-H Youth program and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It recruits adult volunteers to teach youngsters and many parents how to fish.

Some of the improvements are in response to sportfishing restrictions that are intended to protect certain species of salmon and steelhead, according to Virginia Thompson, OSU Extension 4-H youth specialist.

"We will place more emphasis on how young anglers can assist in the protection of our fishing resources," Thompson said. "Ultimately, we want to instill an appreciation of why we must take care of our rivers and lakes if Oregon is to remain an angler's paradise."

The Master Angler program will introduce topics such as water quality and quantity, watersheds, and the function of riparian zones into its curriculum, Thompson said.

Thompson noted that fishing regulations are becoming more complex in order to protect endangered salmon and steelhead. Restrictions include reduced fishing seasons, prohibition on certain kinds of fishing gear and baits, and closure of all or parts of streams.

"Teaching kids the ecological basis for the regulations gives us an opportunity to educate them about the rationale behind the rules as well as the larger public issue surrounding the decline of salmon populations in Oregon," Thompson said.

Other program improvements will focus on the study of fish and the insects and other food sources they depend on. For example, youngsters will learn about what fish eat at various times of year, when certain insects hatch, and the areas of a stream or lake where fish are likely to be found.

In addition, a number of fishing skills will be incorporated into the program, including fly and bait fishing, fishing with artificial lures, fly tying and fishing equipment for different situations.

A training session to familiarize adult Master Angler volunteers about the new emphasis on the environmental and aquatic resources will be held Oct. 1-3 at the 4-H Center near Salem. For more information, contact Thompson at the Center, 503-371-7920.

The Master Angler program introduces young people to the lifetime benefits of fishing as a recreational activity. It provides a hands-on fishing experience and an opportunity to learn about aquatic resources and the responsibilities that come with using a public resource.

The OSU Extension 4-H program has more than 200 youngsters enrolled in Master Angler activities in 13 counties