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.
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