Bass Pro Shops announced “Gone Fishing,” which it said is a major new program to introduce people of all ages, especially urban youth and children overly focused on digital devices, to fishing as a gateway to discovering the outdoors.
The national program encompasses initiatives designed to introduce audiences that haven’t been exposed to outdoor recreation and inspire experienced anglers to pledge their support and join the fishing movement this summer.
The activities include hosting in-store events, collaborating with Major League Baseball teams across the country, tapping into the star power of professional athletes and celebrities, partnering with local and national nonprofits and leveraging social media to raise awareness.
“Bass Pro Shops is committed to inspiring more young people to get to know and love the outdoors,” Bass Pro Shops vice president of marketing Stan Lippelman said in a statement. “In fact, 100,000 people caught a fish at a Bass Pro Shops last year alone, many for the first time. We hope to expand this by offering additional free, easy opportunities to introduce kids and teens to fishing. Once they catch their first fish, we know they’ll be hooked.”
Bass said large catch-and-release ponds at participating stores will provide children and families with the opportunity to catch their first fish, learn basic techniques or fine-tune their fishing skills. The free events will include how-to seminars, take-home handbooks, a photo opportunity with downloads, certificates to commemorate the first catch and in-store giveaways.
The programs will introduce families to fishing during the two-weekend event — June 13-14 and June 20-21 from noon to 5 p.m. — at participating Bass stores across the United States and Canada.
Families can step away from their screens and commit to spending more time outdoors by trading a video game for fishing gear. Shoppers can bring a game to participating Bass stores in the United States on June 13, 14, 20 and 21, and receive a coupon for $5 off a new rod and reel combo costing $19.99 or more (with a limit of one coupon per person).
Bass said baseball fans will have the opportunity to catch a live fish in a ballpark this month. Bass is partnering with Major League Baseball and Triple-A minor league teams in select cities across the United States by constructing temporary catch-and-release ponds inside the parks and inviting fans that might otherwise never have the chance to try their hand at fishing.
Participating teams include the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners, Springfield Cardinals and Memphis Redbirds.
Experienced anglers are encouraged to join the movement by pledging to take a friend or family member fishing this summer. Several celebrities have signed a pledge to take someone fishing in the next 90 days, including Mike Golic of ESPN radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning”; Willie Young, defensive end for the NFL’s Chicago Bears; John Isner, No. 1-ranked American tennis player; Kendall Newson, former Miami Dolphin and pro angler, founder of Teach a Child to Fish; and Kevin VanDam, four-time Bassmaster Classic champion and seven-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
Beginning Saturday, participants who pledge to share their love of fishing can enter online for a chance to win a fishing outing for 20 of their friends and a special guest celebrity.
Bass is encouraging people to capture a photo of their catch for a good cause. If you catch a fish, the retailer said, whether it’s at a Bass Pro Shops catch-and-release ponds or out in nature, take a #fishie (a selfie with your fish), share it on social media and challenge five of your friends to take a #fishie along with a donation to the Teach a Child to Fish program.
Teach a Child to Fish is dedicated to providing underprivileged youth and children the opportunity to experience the joys of fishing and nature through outdoor activities and educational programs.
Stores across the country are collecting and donating a combined 21,000 rods and reels to youth programs, including the Boys and Girls Club and the Boy Scouts of America.