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Bonding Through Family Fishing

Dworshak Outreach and Education teams up with the Idaho Department of Corrections and the Nez Perce Tribe to give offenders the best possible chance for success

Fishing is more than a recreational activity, it’s a chance to forge bonds with family.

So when the Idaho Department of Corrections (Department) contacted the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery Complex and the Nez Perce Tribe for ideas to create a rehabilitation activity for soon-to-be-released inmates, hatchery staff saw an opportunity to help a community organization and fulfill the Service’s mission.

On April 22, 2017, hatchery staff and several partners teamed up to host a family fishing day for correctional institute staff, six inmates, and their families at Tunnel Pond, where the Nez Perce and Service also host an annual fishing day. A local guide shop and the Idaho Department of Correction provided poles, bait, nets, goodie bags, and a barbeque lunch, while the Service hosted two educational activities focused on fishing and trout life cycles.


Jill Olson, Dworshak Fisheries Complex Outreach and Education Program Manager, teaches youth about the life cycle of trout. Credit: Frank Welch/Idaho Department of Corrections.

Givens Hall is a work camp for medium security prisoners in Orofino just a few miles from Dworshak NFH. According to Department Lieutenant Frank Welch, the male inmates within a short time of being released are taught instructional activities to help them after their sentence is over.
“We strive to teach them several fundamentals that will hopefully keep them from returning to their criminal way,” say Welch.

For some of the inmates and their children, it was their first time fishing together. While the bite was initially slow, by the end of the day every family went home with not only a fish, but memories and the skills to hopefully build upon their relationships, one fishing outing at a time.

First fish! While the bite was slow at first, every family went home with not only fish, but memories. Photo: Jill Olson/USFWS


Last Updated: May 25, 2017
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