A successful youth fishing event last week on Cabrillo Pier in San Pedro provided an exciting kick-off for a new youth fishing program under the direction of United Anglers of Southern California (UASC), a non-profit organization dedicated to marine conservation and maximizing recreational fishing opportunities.
Today's "Fishing With Uncle Larry" event provided a successful launch for UASC's program, combining a fun morning's fishing with an opportunity for kids and families to learn some very important lessons about Southern California's ocean and coastal wildlife, our unique environmental challenges, fishing techniques, ethical angling guidelines and much more. Uncle Larry is Larry Fukuhara, Programs Director for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. In addition to his love for teaching kids about ocean life and ecology, Fukuhara is an avid recreational fisherman. Along with the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, this first-of-its-kind pier event was supported by UASC Youth Fishing Partners including NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, 976-TUNA Youth Fishing, Friends of Rollo, and Fred Hall & Associates. This educational activity was made possible in part through a grant from the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP), administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Between 30-40 kids and their families were treated to a fun morning of fishing on the Cabrillo Pier. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers from UASC, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, there was plenty of free loaner tackle, bait and expert assistance. The exceptional variety of fish species caught by the youngsters provided a literal marine biology lesson. More than a dozen local species were caught from the waters inside San Pedro Harbor, including sole, halibut, top smelt, white croaker, herring, sculpin, lizardfish, perch, sand bass, spotted bay bass, cabezon and even a juvenile bocaccio.
An aquarium on the pier allowed the kids to observe many of these fish and learn about their unique adaptations. Kids and their parents were also provided a live demonstration of proper techniques for filleting local fish kept for personal consumption.
Bolstering the education aspect of this event was the debut of a new UASC publication, Your Day on the Water in Southern California. This 56-page booklet was written by professional educators specifically to target 4th- to 6th-grade youngsters, providing a wealth of information on fish, marine mammals and bird life, effective and ethical angling practices, boats and navigation, local coastal ecosystems and more. Each youngster received one of these booklets, along with a variety of other useful and educational information in a "goodie bag" provided by NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. UASC and other sponsoring organizations also provided a wide variety of free prizes for the kids, including spinning rod and reel combos to help them enjoy future fishing trips.
"We've done a lot of youth fishing events, but this was particularly special," said Beth Lafferty, UASC's Director of Youth Fishing. "With this inaugural event, we've taken a big step in combining a fun day fishing with some valuable life lessons focusing on Southern California. Judging by the reactions of the volunteers and parents and the smiles on the kids' faces, I think we planted some seeds that will grow into a new generation of responsible anglers. I can't say enough about all the great people who got behind this project and helped us make it reality. They all have my eternal gratitude," added Lafferty.
Lafferty added that UASC plans to follow up on the success of this first event with future educational youth fishing activities in fresh and salt water. For more information on these upcoming youth fishing events, or the ongoing activities of United Anglers of Southern California, contact UASC headquarters at (877) 494-UASC or visit www.unitedanglers.com. Information on events is also posted on UASC's Facebook Page (sign up as a fan or do a Facebook search for United Anglers of Southern California).