Kokomo is home to one of the most unique youth programs you’ll find anywhere in the United States. It’s hard to believe over three decades have passed since a special group of children and volunteers came together for the inaugural Kokomo Kids Fishing Clinic. For the past 32 years local youth have benefited from a unique partnership involving government entities, national corporations, area businesses and a huge number of area men and women. This summer will be no exception as preparations are being finalized for the 33rd annual Jim “Moose” Carden Kokomo Kids Fishing Clinic.
Sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, SRS, Kokomo Tribune, City of Kokomo, Adams Auto Group, IMI, UAW Local 685, Coca-Cola Bottling, First Farmers Bank, Booster Club of Kokomo and Zebco, 130 children will be afforded the opportunity to learn nearly every aspect of the great sport of fishing.
Registrations will begin tomorrow starting at 8 A.M. at the Kokomo Conference and Event Center, 1500 North Reed Rd. Because of the usually large turnout it is recommended to arrive early. It’s recommended parents register their children once in their younger years and maybe again as they reach their teens. This may create openings for those who have never been successful in registering for the popular program.
Students must be between the ages of six to 15. It is important to note that even though the Clinic is limited to the first 130 that register, all informative class sessions are open to the public. Since we believe the “F” in fishing stands for “family”, parents and other family members are encouraged to attend with their student.
Classes are taught by our area’s most prominent and successful anglers and will take place July 18, 19, 21, 26 and 28 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at Kokomo High School. After these informative presentations children will then “graduate” by competing in their very own three-hour long fishing tournament. All students will have the opportunity to fish from bass boats operated by qualified adult boat captains. The graduation will be held July 30 from 7 A.M. to noon at the Kokomo Reservoir.
During the opening session every child receives a quality Zebco classic rod and reel which is theirs to keep. They will also learn about adventure fishing and outdoor safety. During the following sessions students will receive expert casting instruction while learning a lifetime of fishing techniques from our best fishermen and women. After casting practice all participants convene to the spacious auditorium where they have the opportunity to view presentations from state and nationally known guest speakers.
Students then attend two informative classes where almost every topic associated with fishing is covered. Presentations explain types of artificial lures and proper use, live bait, outdoor ethics and types of fishing equipment. Students even have the chance to learn about ice fishing and how to clean real fish. Immediately following class instruction the children then re-convene to the auditorium where over 100 door prizes are given away. This has been appropriately titled “Happy Half Hour.”
It doesn’t take long to realize those who love the outdoors are some of our community’s most generous and caring people. This becomes evident as everyone involved with the Clinic shares the commitment to provide a positive outdoor experience for our youth, as did the man whose name the Clinic honors.
More than 180 volunteers help participants develop an increased sense of self-reliance with our aquatic resources. This special fraternity of men and women anglers provides a warm and helpful atmosphere which allows students to feel comfortable. These instructors do a superb job in passing on knowledge and skills which can be cultivated for a lifetime of success and enjoyment.
Enough cannot be said about the army of volunteers who make the program possible. Because of their sincere dedication to excellence the Kokomo’s Kids Fishing Clinic was recognized by the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as one of the top outdoor oriented youth fishing programs in the United States.
Regardless of age, the sport of fishing is one of the few activities that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. It can also provide common ground between adults and children - even at times we feel there is none.
Teaching a child to fish usually provides our environment with a much needed friend in the future. If you teach a child to fish today, you won’t have to fish for your child tomorrow. Everyone associated with the Kids Fishing Clinic considers it an investment into our nation’s number one natural resource - Kids!