Fisherman launches camp to grow family relationships
April 15, 2012 at 10 p.m.
Updated April 14, 2012 at 11:15 p.m.
With one Crock-adorned foot propped on a picnic table, Shane Wilson handed out metal hooks and ties to a group of junior fishermen and their parents.
"I'm going to explain the five parts of this hook, OK? This is the eye, the shank, the bend, the barb and the point," Wilson said, pointing to each area of the hook.
An alert audience stared up at his demonstration, watching him guide a long string into a sturdy knot.
"All right now, you try it," he said, walking along the table assisting the children with their knots.
Sitting at picnic tables under a Lake Texana pavilion Sunday morning, the kids learned how to tie several knots - cinch, clinch, arbor and palomar - that would assist them later when they learned to assemble their rods.
"That's a dynamite knot. The best one I've seen all day," Wilson, 52, said, pointing at one of his students. "If you mess up ... who do you blame? Your parents, that's right."
Using humor and charm, Wilson guided a group of about 20 children and adults through an educational fishing camp, Fishing's Future, designed to teach safe and correct methods of fishing. At the camp, children learned Texas fish and game rules and regulations, how to identify and measure fish, what to keep in their tackle box, where certain fish are likely to live in the lake, which bait attract fish, how to assemble and cast a fishing rod, and ethical treatment and proper care of fish and other ecosystems.
Wilson, an alternative director at Point Isabel ISD in Port Isabel, said he launched his nonprofit Fishing's Future in 2007 with the intention of luring families together with a rod and reel.
"This all started because it was my dream to help build families," he said, mentioning several children he once knew as an educator, who were getting thrown out of school because their parental relationships were suffering. "I wanted to do something that encouraged families to spend time together."
Partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife, Wilson led Sunday's camp with about a half-dozen state park workers, including Texas Parks and Wildlife Park Superintendent, Kelley Morris.
"We're elated to have this here today," Morris said. "This is a friendly environment for parents and kids to learn together. It's a chance for our families to connect with kids in that natural setting."
As a lifelong fisherman, Wilson believes the sport can build relationships and make a difference in a child's performance at school.
But Gracie Bosch, 9, attended Wilson's camp for one reason only - to fish.
"I wanted to come because I wanted to catch fish, and have fun, and catch lots of bass and red fish," Gracie said. "I learned a lot here today. Like, how to tie a knot, and that you should always tell people to clean up trash and not pollute the lake, so the fish don't die."
Gracie attended Wilson's five-hour Fishing's Future event with her 11-year-old brother Colby, and parents Jaime and Michael Bosch, who have made fishing into a twice-a-month family affair. The family's fishing dog, a black and tan Chihuahua named Laila, was also present during the camp.
"She normally comes with us whenever we go fishing," Jaime, 35, said. "We've been fishing our whole lives, and Colby has been fishing since he was 2 weeks old. It's just calming, there's no phones, no TV. It forces you to have quality time with your kids."
Since January, Wilson said he's instructed more than 3,300 children throughout Texas, ages 6-16, and spent 1,087 volunteer hours with Fishing's Future. The organization has now spread to form 23 chapters, he said.
Morris said she believes in Wilson's fishing organization and plans for Lake Texana to offer the fishing camp many more times in the future.
"I met him less than a month ago, and this is the first time we've done it. But we absolutely want to be a part of this, and we hope this is the first of many," Morris said.