School is in, and that means youngsters have had their last tastes of summer’s pleasures. For many, that pleasure was spent near the water. For the more fortunate among them, it was time on the water.
Kids who have parents of some means fish from boats. That’s a pleasure most don’t have: With more and more single parents among us, it means an increasing number of young people will never know what it means to catch a fish from a boat.
With adults in high places constantly talking incessantly about how we need to get more youngsters outdoors, it becomes more and more apparent that all levels of government, and those nongovernmental organizations that get governmental funding, need to shift their priorities to consider those kids.
This reawakening comes at the end of another summer, when more parents have called or emailed asking where they can take their kids fishing.
The answer is never the same. That’s because there are fewer and fewer places to take kids fishing.
Baton Rouge’s City Park Lake and New Orleans’ City Park lagoons provide some opportunity. Waddill Wildlife Education Center has two ponds and BREC parks have ponds, but none is well stocked enough for a catch that hooks a kid on fishing.
There are few state parks with piers and fewer state-run wildlife management areas with safe, fishing-from-the-bank opportunities.
There’s a fishing pier at Grand Isle, and it soaks up thousands of summertime fishing hours, but that pier — constructed from the remnants of the I-10 twin spans — has been closed more than it has been open.
In a state that prides itself as a top fishing destination, we’re woefully behind when it comes to opportunity for a parent to open the door on a lifetime activity.
We need fishing piers.
We’ve put our priorities in so many other places over so many years — remember Atchafalaya Basin Program money going to build a golf course in a state that has golf courses closing and being turned into subdivisions. Those priorities should be reminders of at least one chance we’ve lost to create safe, wholesome and productive fishing piers for families without three woods and sand wedges to enjoy.
Fishing is one of those activities that doesn’t require huge expenditures. A cane pole and tackle can get a kid into a sport for what it takes to feed him or her at a fast-food joint.
This doesn’t ignore the efforts of several private groups to get kids closer to the water and their baptism into the ageless and timeless sport.
It’s just that when our state is preparing to spend millions on a hatchery to produce what appears to be already abundant saltwater fish for our waters, something could be done to make sure we have a generation of fishermen to catch them.