Jun. 11—HARLINGEN — In a bid to eliminate the entry costs to fishing, Bass Pro Shops Harlingen and the angling organization Fishing's Future plan two weekends for an event which will provide free fishing rods and reels to youngsters.
Fishing's Future is a nonprofit organization founded in Cameron County by Shane Wilson, and it now has 62 chapters across the country.
"They're nationwide now, and they keep growing, and they keep growing," Jesse Garcia, general manager of Bass Pro Shops Harlingen, said Thursday. "It gives kids an opportunity to go fish and I'll tell you, me personally, me as a child? I'm still grateful and thankful to my dad for teaching me how to fish and taking me outdoors."
"And this is exactly what people need right now — an opportunity to go outdoors and just enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer," he added. "And I think there's nothing morefun than catching a fish."
Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris has made a major effort to get rods and reels into the hands of kids and into the sport of fishing. Bass Pro and Cabela's are donating more than 40,000 rods and reels to nonprofits to allow kids to connect with the outdoors.
The family-oriented "Gone Fishing" events over this weekend and the next will allow kids to test their new rod-and-reel combos in the fish-rich Bass Pro pond in front of the building.
Also planned are free seminars, free crafts and free photo downloads, all to occur at Bass Pro between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each of the four days.
"Bass Pro over the years has been very generous to Fishing's Future," Wilson said. "Every year they select our organization as their charity organization to support, and they make a tremendous donation of fishing rods and reels, which we greatly appreciate."
Wilson also said Fishing's Future has a Second Cast program, which takes old and used equipment as well as donated gear which the group refurbishes and provides free to kids.
"I'm excited at what they do, it's phenomenal," said Tim Lippoldt, who just started working with Fishing's Future. "And for people like me that are paraplegic, or have any kind of handicap, that's kind of the way they're going to try to go to help people.
"We need to get out, too," he added. "A lot of people don't realize they can do this, get out and fish, get out in the open with their families and spend quality time, and that's what I look forward to."
Since the program began, Bass Pro Shops has donated 400,000 outdoors items to youth-focused nonprofits across North America.
"I think times have changed, and that's Mr. Morris' goal, to encourage parents and family members to challenge their kids to put down those tablets and to enjoy the great outdoors," Garcia said.
"We live in such a beautiful place in the world, we're still a little gem right?" he added. "We're big but we're still small, so you can still go out there and enjoy a beautiful sunset, a beautiful sunrise. We are blessed, especially in the area we live in."
IF YOU GO:
— WHAT: "Gone Fishing" events
— WHERE: Bass Pro Shops, Harlingen
— WHEN: Saturday and Sunday; also June 19-20
— TIME: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day
— TO DO: Kids receive free fishing gear which they can test out in the Bass Pro pond; fishing seminars; crafts and free photo downloads
— COST: Free