Chapter Fishing Trips to Attract Anglers
As a conservation organization, we pride ourselves on focusing on the resource first and the recreation second, but the simple fact is that for most of our members, fishing is our front door. they come into TU because they are interested in learning to fish (often fly fishing), where to fish locally, and to meet other anglers who fish. Using this interest to get members out and active with the chapter helps you build relationships with would-be volunteers and broaden their palette to the conservation, education and community efforts you are driving forward.
Many chapters host weekend fishing trips to destination fisheries, places that skilled and experienced anglers are excited to go – and trips like those are an important and fun way to keep engaged members coming back. However, we often forget what it is like to be a new angler and be unsure of how, where and when to go out, and a chapter fishing outing can be a perfect place to build those skills and confidence.
When thinking about chapter trips you might offer, consider the following:
- Local Outings Are Easiest
Both for your volunteer planners and for your members who might attend, a simple, weekend outing to a local trout stream within a 30-45 minute drive makes for a fun day that’s easy to say “yes” to and attend! Pick locations and rivers that are easy to get to, have clear and ample parking and access sites and offer angling opportunities that are attractive to beginners and experienced anglers alike.
- Clearly and Explicitly Invite Everyone
Often, we hear from new members of TU that they don;t attend chapter fishing trips because they are “not good enough yet” to attend a chapter trip. they feel like they would just be in the way. Combat that barrier to attendance by clearly stating in your fishing trip communications and promotions that these trips are “open to everyone, beginner and experienced anglers alike” or that they are “family-friendly and perfect for new anglers” or that “chapter expert anglers are ready and willing to help teach you where to go, what to use and how to fish this great stream.” The more barriers you knock down by making the trip seem less daunting to a beginner, the more people you will attract.
- Set Expectations for Board Members & Trip Leaders
A chapter fishing trip is not a day for board members to go fishing with their friends, instead, it is an opportunity for your board to meet and connect with new members and to help beginners improve skills and feel welcome and part of the chapter community. Set expectations for all board members and trip leaders that their first priority is to be welcoming, to give advice, to chat and help new anglers gear up and get out on the water and to potentially hook into a fish – something they’ll remember forever and connect as a pleasant memory of their TU experience!
- Try Something New and Different
Trout aren’t the only quarry in town and chances are you have access to a bluegill pond, a smallmouth bass river, carp in a canal or maybe even saltwater species. Mix up your trips, offer to teach members how to do a type of fishing for a species they’ve never caught before and you may well be surprised just how many new faces come along to learn and have fun.
- Add Some food for Increased Attendance
Adding a streamside barbecue certainly creates some additional logistics to plan, but a grill, some buns, hot dogs and a few bags of chips are a relatively inexpensive way to continue the community building during a day trip to a local stream. When people share a meal, they naturally feel more closely bound and often the stories, laughs and camaraderie that comes out of a quick bite on a trip pay off in long-term active members and volunteers you can harness for future chapter conservation, education and other programs and projects.