The next generation may be wired differently (maybe that should be wireless), but they still appreciate time with the older people, especially when it comes to fishing, boating and otherwise enjoying the great outdoors. To help create more outdoor adventures, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has organized a fishing club open to all youth between the ages of 5 and 15. Membership is free and each new member will receive a Maryland Youth Fishing Club Patch. Special youth events are scheduled throughout state waters, and young anglers are encouraged to share their fishing stories and photos on the DNR’s Youth Angler’s Log. Members who submit a photo and short summary of their fishing trip to the log are entered to win a $50 Bass Pro Shop gift card. Winners are randomly chosen four times a year.

In addition, each month the DNR will select at least one club member who submitted a post to the log to be part of the youth component of the 2014 Maryland Fishing Challenge. The members selected were invited to attend the final event for a chance to win one of several mentored fishing trips at Sandy Point State Park in conjunction with the Maryland Seafood Festival. Complete information is available on the DNR website.

Time to learn

Chilly months on the Chesapeake are a great time to visit the indoor boat shows throughout the region, and they are also a fine time to learn more about boating and fishing. Show organizers often schedule seminars presented by skilled local anglers and mariners offering practical advice. Local fishing clubs offer flea market events and seminar fundraisers. The Annapolis chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association hosts its annual fishing expo in February at the Annapolis Elks Lodge, which features seminars by some of the most respected anglers and guides on the bay, as well as oodles of fishing tackle offered by local dealers. Another good way to get ready for warmer temperatures is to take an online or face-to-face boating course sanctioned by the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Power Squadron. For instance, Virginia offers a course recommended for students 12 years of age and older who want to learn more about the fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. According to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), a typical course lasts 6-8 hours with exam time depending on the class location and instructor. A schedule of courses is available on the DGIF website.

By Christopher Knauss, Southern Boating February 2014