Working Together to Teach Kids to Fish
Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services partners with local community organizations to introduce children to fishing at youth fishing rodeos in order to:
- Provide fishing opportunities and fishing experience in a safe controlled, environment.
- Teach basic angling skills.
- Help children to develop a stewardship ethic.
- Offer a positive fishing experience that fosters future interest in fishing.
- Encourage fishing as an outdoor family activity.
Youth fishing rodeos are a great way to introduce a child to fishing - even if you have never been fishing yourself. Fishing rodeos are typically held at small ponds or lakes and are aimed at helping beginners successfully catch a fish.
Fishing and Boating Services partners with community organizations through our Youth Fishing Rodeo Program. Events are sponsored by a wide variety of community and non-profit organizations and the department works with these organizations to provide support and assistance. Rodeos are held throughout the state between March and October and are generally open to participants from 3 to 15 years of age. Each year, thousands of children get their first fishing experience at a rodeo event and event organizers work hard to make sure all the children have a fun and exciting time. Most events provide bait or fishing gear and have volunteers on hand to help the kids learn to fish. Others even add food and prizes to make the day one they won't soon forget.
If you are interested in introducing your child to fishing at a youth fishing rodeo, the most current listing of events is now available. Throughout the spring and summer months, several
Maryland State Parks are hosting their own youth fishing events.
If your organization is interested in sponsoring a youth rodeo event and would like to request support or assistance through the department's Youth Fishing Rodeo Program, Please complete the Youth Fishing Rodeo Program Application. More information about the program is
available in this letter.
Important note: The terms and conditions for the Youth Fishing Rodeo Program have changed. Please see the updated policy here. The updated policy is currently in effect for all rodeos. Coordinators are required to submit a post–event report from a prior event to be granted a rodeo permit or receive fish the next year.
If you have any questions or would like more information about this program, please feel free to contact our Youth Fishing Rodeo Program Coordinator:
Youth Fishing Rodeo Program Coordinator
Albert Powell State Fish Hatchery
20901 Fish Hatchery Road
Hagerstown, MD 21740
301-393-5940 (ext. 108) or
Tips and Suggestions for a Fun and Successful Youth Fishing Rodeo
Youth fishing rodeos are a great way to introduce a child to fishing and the department is proud to partner with a wide variety of community organizations to provide children with a positive fishing experience which inspires and excites them. Here are a few helpful tips to consider when planning your event:
- Most rodeo participants are 3 - 15 years of age. Many have never fished before and their parents may not have fished since they were children themselves. Having lots of friendly and patient volunteers who have fishing experience will help to make sure the kids (and their parents) learn the basics and have a safe and enjoyable day.
- If you are able to provide rods, try to have enough small ones and choose the closed reel, push button style (spincast). Plan to supply plenty of bait containers and try to provide a quick introduction on how to bait the hook, cast the line, and remove fish from the hook before the fishing begins.
- Many community ponds have a ready supply of sunfish which are easy to catch and kids love, so don't feel that you have to stock fish in order to have a successful rodeo. In the warmer months, algae can make fishing difficult, so keep this in mind when selecting your rodeo date.
- If you choose to have prizes, remember to make them fishing friendly in order to encourage future trips (give rods, tackle boxes, etc.). And remember the psychology of kids – we want them to enjoy the experience and not get caught up in competitive contests (largest fish, most fish, etc.) which diminish their appreciation of catching a fish. Try to highlight new accomplishments (first fish, etc.) rather than competitive ones.
- A fishing rodeo is a perfect opportunity to teach children about fish and the habitats in which they live. Try to include interactive and hands on lessons about clean water, healthy ecosystems, and what they can do to help. Many teachers, park naturalists, environmental and fishing organizations, and biologists are great at sharing information in ways that kids enjoy so look around for these folks in your community and ask for their help at your event.