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fishing. He does not like to fish. But he likes spending time with me. He’s fully supported my endeavors in the outdoors. That’s the type of parent I want to be.

SCOUTING: Fishing has been part of Scouting since the very beginning. One of the 57 original merit badges was Angling, which became today’s Fishing merit badge. How has fishing evolved over that time?

T.R.: It’s like the history of the United States in a lot of ways. We thought we had endless natural resources. The pioneers came, cut down all the trees, shot all the buffalo, and all the resources were gone. Fishing was the same way. Sixty years ago or so, we were dumping pollutants into these lakes and rivers. Now they’ve figured out how to take care of the water and make it cleaner. Now we release a lot of the fish instead of just keeping every single one. Hopefully, when my son’s generation is into fishing, it’s even better.

SCOUTING: Has fishing grown in popularity?

T.R.: I think so. Fishing’s a sport you can do from the time you are a little Cub Scout all the way through your life. You can go on a dock with a worm and a bobber and kick back and do it easily. You can go troll deep

Who says fishing is a slow sport? Tom’s boat, which he bought with the help of his two sponsors, Ranger Boats and Mercury out- boards, tops out at an impressive 75 mph.

water and need a full-body harness to wrestle a giant blue marlin. Or you can do a competitive bass tourna- ment, where there’s high stress and you’re up against the clock.

SCOUTING: These days, there are so many things pulling on a boy’s time. How can Scout leaders use fishing to draw people back in and keep them in Scouting?

T.R.: I’d say two things. One is catch- ing, and the other is just being in the outdoors in general. With my son being young, he only wants to fish for about 30 minutes. So you go swimming, maybe chase around frogs. Wading is an awesome way to get kids involved, because they’re splashing around in the water. It’s not just fishing—hopefully it’s a whole experience.

SCOUTING: And then there’s catching?

T.R.: Yes, catching a fish is the most important part. There’s such a buildup in fishing: Here’s how you tie the knot. Here’s how to cast. Here’s how you get a hook out. Then you go to some stinky pond, where the bite is not that good, and you don’t catch anything. I’d say the biggest thing is try to get somewhere where they are going to catch fish. Get those kids to catch something the first time. Once they do, it ignites the passion.

TIPS FROM TOM fI’d rather fish the wrong bait in the right spot than fish the right bait in the wrong spot. Like real estate, fishing is all about location.

fFish are more active and see less flaws in your bait on the windy side of the lake. It’s harder to fish in the wind, so windy banks are less pressured, too.

fIsolated cover is key. A single dock or laydown on an entire shoreline is almost guaranteed to hold fish, whereas fish will spread out on a shore with lots of docks or laydowns on it.

fFish tend to hold in places for a reason. I often catch multiple fish from a small area if I work it over thoroughly, plus I can revisit the same spot at a later time and catch them again.

fPlay golf on sunny, calm days. Bass bite best on windy, cloudy, and/or rainy days.

f Fish don’t have eyelids, but contrary to popular belief, they have pupils and don’t shy away from bright sunlight. However, bass often lurk in the shade to conceal their presence from prey.

fFishermen spend way too much time worrying about color. Minnows and shad don’t change colors hourly and yet fish eat them every day.

fThe first and last hour of daylight are regularly the very best fishing times of the day. I frequently catch more fish at those times than I do the entire rest of the day.

fBass hang out around the thickest cover available. If you’re not getting snagged, you’re probably not fishing in the right areas.

fThe cast that you least want to make is the one you need to take. The harder to get your lure in a spot, the more likely it’ll result in a bass.



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