Getting Youth Hooked on Fishing and the Outdoors
Salish Ponds Wetland Park in Fairview, Oregon offers a wide range of recreational opportunities including fishing.

The delighted squeals of children echoed around the pond as new anglers attempted to hook fish instead of their siblings. Earlier this summer, more than 100 families converged on West Salish Pond in Fairview, Oregon, near Portland for an event organized by Get Hooked. The mission of Get Hooked is to provide education and inspiration to minority youth and families by submerging them into the world of outdoor recreation and sport fishing. To accomplish their mission, Get Hooked reaches out to at-risk youth in marginalized communities, serving anybody who has a desire to get outdoors but doesn't know how to do it or doesn't have the resources.

The best part of teaching kids how to fish is seeing HUGE smiles when they finally catch their prize, like this girl pictured from another free fishing event.

My colleague and I were honored to lend a hand —and cast a line — when Get Hooked teamed up with the City of Fairview, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help families get outside for a FREE fishing day. What’s a free fishing day? Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife designates a few days a year as free fishing days, meaning folks can fish without buying a license, although other regulations such as closures, bag limits, and size restrictions still apply. Free fishing days are an excellent opportunity to try — and hopefully get hooked on — fishing and the outdoors.

Although being outside is its own reward, the odds of hooking “the big one” during this event were higher than usual. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recently stocked the pond with 1,000 trout! When and where they stock fish isn’t a secret (see their trout stocking schedule), but you need more than an understanding of where fish are to be successful — you also need the right gear and knowledge. A bit of luck and persistence help too! 

Get Hooked and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife showed up to West Salish Pond with fishing rods and volunteers eager to help folks successfully fish. The City of Fairview provided snacks, sunscreen, and even more volunteers. 

The Service’s “Water Connects Us All” trailer is stocked with fishing rods and a variety of fun educational activities used for public engagement and fishing events.

We pulled up with a colorful fishing trailer, created and managed by the Service's Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program, that was hard to miss. On its side, the trailer reads “Water Connects Us All.” Artwork wraps around the trailer, depicting a river full of life, above and below the water line and along its banks. The trailer, stocked with 50 fishing rods and a variety of fun educational activities, was quite the conversation starter. We received many requests to bring it to future events.

Tools of the trade. We bring fishing gear, experience, and encouragement to fishing events around the region.

All in all, it was a fantastic day at Salish Pond. There were a lot of smiles as families enjoyed being outside with the common goal of catching a fish. Many kids certainly got hooked on fishing and spending time outdoors! 

This way for more fishing...​​​​​

We’re looking forward to getting more youth hooked on fishing and the outdoors at future events. Our next stop with the fishing trailer is at Johnson Creek Days for “Science in the Park” on September 16, 2023, from 1 pm- 4 pm. Join Johnson Creek Watershed Council, NW Family Daycation, and the Service for a family-friendly, fun filled day where you’ll learn about the salmon life cycle and safe fishing practices, take home a native plant, and enjoy nature-themed games. 

The following day, the trailer will zip on over to the St. Louis Ponds in Gervais, Oregon for another fun day of fishing. This event, organized by Oregon Spinal Cord Injury Connection, is designed to connect individuals and families who experience disability with fishing.

Be on the lookout for our trailer at these and other future events near you. If you see us, please come say hello!

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Recreational Activities