Tag Archives: Take me fishing

Casting for memories

In honor of Father’s Day, we asked four-time father and retired Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager Don Hultman to reflect on what fishing has meant to him and his kids. His response may motivate you to grab a pole.

June is known for many things: the beginning of summer, the end of school, Father’s Day, and often, good fishing. As Father’s Day approaches, my thoughts turn naturally to my kids, and my father. My dad taught me to fish at a young age. From his teaching, I developed a skill that turned into a passion that I’ve shared with my own children.

The oft-heard quote “give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime” is certainly true in my case. Of course, I don’t catch or keep enough fish for my daily bread, but fishing feeds my spirit to this day. It also helps me remember the valuable life-skills of patience, perseverance, and humility.

I have passed on my angling knowledge and passion to my children. My first clutch is long-fledged at ages 37, 35, and 33. I was blessed with another child who will turn 9 this summer. Their ages and circumstances could not be more different, yet over time and distance they share a common bond: they have all fished, and learned to fish, with me, their dad.

I took my kids fishing when they were barely able to walk. Sometimes they were engaged in fishing; sometimes they got bored; and sometimes they were just happy to play with ropes over the side of the boat or minnows in the bucket. But we were together, and we were making memories and creating family stories.

Fishing involves what psychologists call “intermittent reinforcement,” which is perhaps the strongest type of motivation. Intermittent reinforcement means that the rewards of some repeated activity happen in a random, irregular way.

One day when fishing you may catch many keepers or a trophy fish. Then you may fish for days without repeating the experience. The reward is thus intermittent. It is one reason (although not often admitted) why anglers angle, hunters hunt, and gamblers gamble.

Of course there are many other “rewards” from fishing or other outdoor activities that are quite regular in nature: fresh air, beautiful scenery, mental and physical challenges, wildlife seen and heard, and the camaraderie of family or friends. I can depend on enjoying one or more of these every trip, and they are motivation enough to get outside.

With my father and my children, I caught lots of fish at times, and sometimes none at all. Each experience was different, and most have been forgotten under the layers of life and time. But there were those other times, the “ooh, I got one” moments, when the rare and unusual made for memories that last across generations.

When my family gathers, we enjoy sharing stories, those invisible threads that weave the fabric of family. And often, fishing and other outdoor adventures form the basis for those stories. We remember, we smile, we laugh, and we bond anew.

It is June again. Go fishing or do something else outdoors with your kids, your father, a loved one, or yourself. You just never know what will happen, and what memory you will catch.

To learn about fishing opportunities in your state, visit www.fws.gov/fishing.

Cops and Bobbers: Partnering with police for community and fishing!

Chelsea DiAntonio is a wildlife refuge specialist at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: USFWS

Chelsea DiAntonio is a wildlife refuge specialist at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. Photo credit: USFWS

It’s National Fishing and Boating week, and today we are showcasing a partnership that merges cops, communities and fishing. Chelsea DiAntonio of the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey shares with us this inspiring story of how one city police department is taking an active role in making positive connections with its young citizens through fishing and connecting families with the natural world around them.  


When a city police department decides to hold a youth fishing derby, you can expect a great time and a fun play on words. The “Cops and Bobbers” fishing event was organized by the City of Garfield Police Department in Garfield, New Jersey, with the intent to foster positive relationships with families and young people throughout their community. One important goal of holding these community events is to deter kids from turning to the streets, getting involved with gangs, or partaking in illegal activities.

Members from the City of Garfield Police Department manage a busy registration tent. Photo Credit: USFWS

Members of the City of Garfield Police Department manage a busy registration tent. Photo Credit: USFWS

And what better way for a community to come together in a positive way then through fishing! Thus, the creation of the “Cops and Bobbers” family fishing event!

The city of Garfield is located within a mosaic of urban communities in northern New Jersey, just a few miles from Manhattan. The number of outdoor recreational areas available for families to use is minimal. But one of the few remaining community parks happens to be located just next to the police headquarters. In the middle of Dahnerts Lake Park is a nice size lake with trout stocked by the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife. While many residents take advantage of the park to play, the lake is under-utilized.

Dave Miller from The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge outfits a young angler with a bobber. Photo credit: USFWS

Dave Miller from The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge hands a young angler a bobber. Photo credit: USFWS

Since the Garfield Police Department had never run a fishing derby before they turned to the knowledgeable employees from the Great Swamp and Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuges for assistance. Refuge staff were well equipped for the event, bringing along hooks, bobbers, and other fishing supplies to help the young anglers. And as an added bonus, the police department brought fishing poles to be given away to the first 150 participants. The grand prize of the day was a kayak that went to one lucky angler who landed the largest trout.

A popular spot to fish was from the gazebo in the middle of Danhert's Lake. Photo credit: USFWS

A popular spot to fish was from the gazebo in the middle of Danhert’s Lake. Photo credit: USFWS

There’s no doubt that Garfield Police Department went above and beyond to outfit their young community members with all of the tools needed to get fishing!  Now, thanks to the Cops and Bobbers program, maybe more residents will use the lake for fishing.

George Molnar of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge helps unhook a catfish. Photo credit: USFWS

George Molnar of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge helps unhook a catfish. Photo credit: USFWS

All the refuge staff look forward to growing the partnership with the Garfield Police Department and helping with future events.  Travelling to these communities and working with urban audiences and partners such as the Garfield Police Department, present a good foundation to build new connections. Adding a fun, interactive activity such as fishing helps the cause all the better, with hopes that the younger generation fosters a stronger appreciation of the natural world.

Learn more about National Fishing and Boating Week.

Find a place to fish and boat near you.

Visit Wallkill River and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuges

Take Me Fishing

Learn more about the Cops and Kids Foundation.