by Roland Sigurdson, Aquatic Education Specialist
Getting fishing equipment can be a challenge for many schools and youth groups. Funding is tight these days and writing grants takes time, effort and a bit of good luck.
So how can you move forward with a fishing program on the cheap? Purchasing rods and reels is the single biggest piece of your fishing program budget. While you might be able to get by making pop can fishing rigs for a year or two, ultimately you want to introduce your kids to rods and reels. We’ve got a few ideas and outlets to let you know about.
- You can put out a request to your community for used equipment. Many garages and basements have a special corner where old, unused fishing poles hide. Many times they can be yours simply for the asking.
- The only down side here is that the equipment will typically arrive in various states of disrepair. Now you can certainly request that only ‘new equipment in good working condition’ be donated and I would suggest that you do that in your request. The other part of your request is for volunteers to assist you in replacing old fishing line, cleaning/oiling reels and getting the equipment field ready.
- Another option is making a request to local groups like conservation clubs, sportsman groups, fraternal organizations (Legions, VFW, Eagles, Moose Lodge, Knight of Columbus, Shriners, Elks, Masons, etc), or PTA/PTO for funds to purchase.
- Donated funds can really go a long way if you take advantage of the educational discounts available through Pure Fishing (Shakespeare) or Zebco. We’ve gotten rod/reel combos for as little as $8.00/each, contact a MinnAqua Specialist for more information on ordering rods & reels.
Hooks, bobbers and sinkers may often be obtained for very little money. Donations are worth asking for from the community. Local tackle shops or big box stores will often give you ‘a handful’ which is usually enough to get you started. Don’t let a lack of these simple tools be a barrier to getting started.
- It can also be advantageous to create a local collaborative to purchase the equipment. Consider partnering with your physical education or biology teachers, park & recreation department, libraries, scout troops, 4-H fishing sports clubs, or community education.
- We do encourage everyone to use lead-free tackle whenever possible and we do know this can be a bit challenging to find in some communities. However, don’t forget the on-line resources out there. There are many outlets for these products on the internet.
- Finally, if you get stuck on finding equipment please give us a call. We are happy to help you figure out alternative outlets for materials, brainstorm resources and even send a couple sinkers your way if you just can’t locate any or get them donated.
The MinnAqua staff strives every day to help you be successful in introducing kids to aquatic stewardship and fishing. It’s in our mission, in our passion and sometimes, in our tacklebox.
MinnAqua Fishing: Get in the Habitat!
Connecting youth to Minnesota’s waters through fishing.
We aim to
Value diverse views and strive for innovative programming
Build capacity and empower others
Create stewards of the resource