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‘Fishing for Youth’ a huge success

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 Each summer, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries hosts Nature Coast Fishing for Youth (NCFY) in Cedar Key - a free fishing clinic offered to area youth. Last summer, with only six clinics, there were about 100 participants, but this summer Cedar Key boasted 11 clinics and 219 participants.

Some of this summer’s participants were returning groups, such as Cub Scout Pack 514 from Chiefland, Cedar Key Summer Youth Program, Migrant Education Group and Taylor County 4-H, with several new area youth coming from Ocala, Crystal River, and Gainesville. The updated lesson plans kept things exciting and new for the returning students, who may have expected the same lesson from last summer.

NCFY updated the lesson plans by adding a hands-on marine “habitat in a box” activity where students explored mangroves, salt marshes, sea grasses and estuaries. They also discovered sources of pollution, which included monofilament fishing line and how it can be recycled.  

Also new this year was the use of water bottles as fishing poles to teach students how to use the “pendulum” (an under hand casting technique) for short distances or for targeted fishing spots that require high accuracy.

All students practiced casting and their new fishing skills from the No. 4 Bridge at the close of each clinic; a few students landed 3-5 inch catfish and couldn’t have been happier. 

Each student was shown how to use a de-hooker to remove circle hooks from fish and those who caught a fish (catfish in most cases) spotlighted their skill by quickly and easily removing the fish by themselves. 

One of the most exciting moments for the students occurred at the end of the program, when every participant who completed the class received a free rod/reel combo and loaded tackle box (donated to the FWC from Fish Florida), along with a certificate of completion and a fishing activity book from the FWC.

Thank you to all the student volunteers for making Nature Coast Fishing for Youth a successful summer.

Look for the program next year next summer or visit: myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/outreach-and-education for other clinics throughout the state. Adults, look for adult fishing clinics and women’s fishing clinics during the fall.

For more information, contact Jennifer Saranzak at