Teaching the Joy of Fishing

Janet Coit, DEM Director; Steve Medeiros, RISAA president/camp director; and camp participants held a cast-off to open the third annual RISAA Youth Fishing Camp.

Photo: Janet Coit, DEM Director; Steve Medeiros, RISAA president/camp director; and camp participants held a cast-off to open the third annual RISAA Youth Fishing Camp.

This summer was a big success for Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) youth programs, such as Take-a-Kid Fishing Day, which exposes youth to fishing for the first time, Youth Fishing Camp, which nurtures a child’s desire to fish, and scholarship programs that encourage college-bound high schoolers to seek fisheries or environmental-related studies.

Over the years these programs have taught youth the joy of fishing, how to be responsible stewards of fish and habitat, and the importance of strong conservation measures in fisheries laws and regulations to ensure we have fish to catch and eat in the future.

Steve Medeiros, president and executive director of RI Saltwater Anglers Association, said, “First they need to find the joy in fishing. That’s why we provide youth with as much fishing time as possible in our programs. Once they’re hooked on fishing, it’s an easier transition to teach them how to be good stewards of the environment.”

Now that summer has ended, here is the scoop on three of the organization’s youth programs.

“We are catching a lot of fish.”… Take-a Kid Fishing

Noah Blasi of Warwick with the 22” summer flounder (fluke) he caught at the RI Saltwater Anglers Association fishing camp.

Noah Blasi of Warwick with the 22” summer flounder (fluke) he caught at the RI Saltwater Anglers Association fishing camp.

“Double hook up,” “Fish on at Sally Rock,” “The bluefish are going for anything small and shiny.” This was the sound of a successful fishing trip as I listened to the marine radio during the Take-a-Kid Fishing Day held this spring in Greenwich Bay, RI.

The aim of the program is to give children a chance to learn about Narragansett Bay and the environment, experience the thrill of catching a fish and ride on a boat in saltwater. Eighty-one children, 41 volunteer vessels and about 150 volunteers served as mates, logistics volunteers, cooks, servers and cleaners. Some years the number of participants totals over 200, but the threat of inclement weather kept some youth organizations from participating this year. The children were treated to hot dogs and hamburgers, which capped off a very successful day on the water.

Rich Hittinger, vice president of RISAA, said, “The day was a big success, the weather cooperated and so did the bluefish as the bite was good with all catching fish. We teach the children about the value of catch and release, but many of them want to take the fish home and that’s OK. So we accommodate them and offer to clean and fillet the fish and make sure we have plenty of ice and bags available so kids can take the fish home.”

Click here for a video on Take-a-Kid Fishing Day.

“The fish was a little hard to reel in”… Fishing Camp 2018

The third annual RISAA Fishing Camp was a big hit with participants this summer. Noah Blasi (age 10) of Warwick, RI said, “The fish was a little hard to reel in, but it was not the first fluke I’ve caught.” Noah was talking about the 22″ fluke he caught when fishing on the Seven B’s Party Boat out of Pt. Judith during the second day of camp.

Fifty-three children attended the three day camp with 35 RISAA volunteers and Department of Environmental Management staff members working to make it a success. On the first day campers learned fishing gear and tackle basics, fish identification, how to use spinning and conventional reels, casting and fishing from shore, knot tying, boating safety and how to tag and release fish. The second day was a trip on the Seven B’s party boat and the third day was cancelled due to thunderstorms.

Steve Medeiros, who also served as camp director, said, “A lot goes on when you fish. It appeals to our sense of adventure and teaches us patience and is one of those activities where science and art converge. Fishing allows us to build a lifetime of memories and friendships with those we fish with.”

Janet Coit, Director of the Department of Environmental Management, said, “We are excited to partner with RISAA on its Youth Fishing Camp at Rocky Point… kudos to RISAA for bringing this camp to Rocky Point and inspiring both a love of fishing and for this park in our young people. It is through efforts like this that we forge the next generation of environmental stewards. Fantastic!”

The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) sponsor the youth fishing camp for 7 to 12 year olds with funding from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

Click here for a video on RISAA’s 2018 Fishing Camp.

“We aim to encourage careers in fisheries and marine sciences.”… Scholarship program

Ed Cook at the helm and mate Pete O’Biso, both long time RISAA volunteers, provided a great time for youngsters fishing on their boat during this year’s Take-a-Kid Fishing Day on Greenwich Bay.

Ed Cook at the helm and mate Pete O’Biso, both long time RISAA volunteers, provided a great time for youngsters fishing on their boat during this year’s Take-a-Kid Fishing Day on Greenwich Bay.

RISAA awarded its final scholarship last month from four youth scholarship programs for last year high school and first year college students.

David Michel, chairman of RISAA’s Scholarship committee said, “Since 2013 we have award over 137 scholarships. Today each scholarship is $500 and they are awarded to Rhode Island residents in high school or students entering their second year in a fisheries or marine studies programs at the University or Rhode Island or Roger Williams University.”

Additionally, there are member scholarships that are awarded to any good-standing members of RISAA or their immediate family, specifically their children or stepchildren, grandchildren, brother or sister, or stepbrother or stepsister who is currently in their high school senior year.

For more information about youth programs or other RISSA programs, visit www.risaa.org or email president Steve Medeiros at stevem@rissa.org.

2018 RISAA Youth Fishing Camp participants, volunteers and staff.

2018 RISAA Youth Fishing Camp participants, volunteers and staff.

About Dave Monti

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a vice president of the RI Saltwater Anglers Association, an active member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council.

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