Fishing Conference Encourages Kids To 'Unplug'
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Nathan Rott went along to see if the kids would take the bait.
NATHAN ROTT: They say that even a bad day's fishing is better than a good day's work. Here...
(SOUNDBITE OF SPLASHING)
ROTT: ...on the muddy banks of the Potomac River, Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi couldn't agree more.
MIKE ENZI: For me, fishing is my passion. It's the most relaxing thing that I can do. And right now, the snow is a little deep in Wyoming for fishing, but it's perfect here.
ROTT: Enzi was just one of many anglers lining the banks of the Potomac and the neighboring C&O Canal. Members of Congress, conservationists, lobbyists were all out here for the American Fly Fishing Trade Association's annual Family & Youth Casting Call, tossing lines in the murky water, laughing and heckling.
ENZI: I think you should have played them longer.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
ROTT: After weeks of fury over the budget national debate, Enzi says there's no partisanship out here on the river.
ENZI: Fishing and hunting and the outdoor sports really don't have a party. Everybody is interested in them. Everybody wants to preserve them.
ROTT: Everybody who isn't too busy on Facebook or Twitter, that is. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that on a nonschool day, the average American kid spends seven and a half hours plugged in.
ENZI: I keep telling them if they really want high-density three- dimension, they just need to step out their front door, and fishing is the best high-density three-dimension that you can get.
ROTT: Thus, all the rods and reels, bobbers and worms being tossed into the water during the event's last day. See, many anglers say that fishing is the outdoor world's equivalent of a gateway drug: Get a kid outside with a rod in hand and without knowing it, they become the conservationists of tomorrow.
FRANK CRESCITELLI: We brought about 40 children down from Staten Island, New York.
ROTT: Frank Crescitelli is with the Fishermen's Conservation Association. They try to connect inner city kids with the outdoors through fishing.
CRESCITELLI: We loaded them up on a bus at 5 a.m., and we were hoping for a sunny day and the outdoors to cooperate, but the fish are already wet.
ROTT: And with the pouring rain, so are the kids.
CRESCITELLI: Now, Delilah here never caught a fish before in her whole life, so if we can get her to catch one, it would be fabulous.
ROTT: Fishing ain't quite your thing, huh?
DELILAH BATAI: No.
CRESCITELLI: Delilah, there's a lot of waiting in fishing.
ROTT: Waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.
ROTT: I tried passing the time by asking what she's most excited to see in Washington, D.C.
BATAI: A fish in my rod.
ROTT: That's the thing you're most excited to see today, not like the White House?
BATAI: Oh, yeah. I want to see that too.
ROTT: Out of the rain and under a large tent, we hear the details of some of the other kids. They had better luck.
KELVIN JENNINGS: When I saw, like, the fish actually come out, it was wiggling and everything, and its gills were popping up, like it was doing the chicken dance.
ROTT: Back at home, he's like any other kid. He watches TV and plays computer games.
JENNINGS: But now, I found my passion: fishing.
ROTT: For NPR News, I'm Nathan Rott.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.