LADSON, S.C.— To engage young anglers – especially those already enjoying the growing popularity in high school and college bass fishing tournaments, Shimano will kick-off its youth fishing program on December 1, announces Steve Ferrara, Shimano fishing division vice president. The program aims to introduce and educate high school and college age anglers on Shimano tackle to help them have more fishing success, create lifetime relationships even beyond their time on the water, and open their eyes and teach young anglers about the sustainable use of the resource. “We want them to further appreciate the sport in more ways than just catching a big bass,” Ferrara said.

Shimano ‘Youth Fishing Coordinator’ Frank Hyla, who has been active in high school bass fishing scene in Illinois since its inception in 2008, will lead Shimano’s efforts. In laying the groundwork for Shimano’s program, Hyla has attended more than 200 tournaments and youth fishing group meetings over this past year to both talk about Shimano and its tackle and advocacy efforts

“Through Frank and our team’s efforts, we’ve designed our high school and college angling program to be much more than just have having these student anglers use our tackle,” said Ferrara. “Our plans include not only helping them pursue their passion for competitive fishing, but also guide and mentor them as they navigate their way to potential careers in the sportfishing, outdoors or natural resources fields.

The Shimano program starts with the school’s coach or fishing club youth director. Once recognized by Shimano, “we’ll start our partnership with these young anglers, providing program details, information on Shimano, G. Loomis, PowerPro and Jackall tackle and our advocacy efforts, and how they can participate in Shimano’s special ‘Varsity’ purchase program,” said Hyla. “We’ll reach out to our student partners through a monthly e-newsletter with further information on tackle and techniques, upcoming tournaments and events where we will be involved, and other program updates and opportunities.”

Photo: Ronnie Moore/Bassmaster

Photo: Ronnie Moore/Bassmaster

In 2017, Hyla notes that he and Shimano Experience Team will attend select high school and college tournaments, including events conducted by B.A.S.S., as well as youth tournaments sponsored by the Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association, and the Florida, Georgia and Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation groups. Hyla notes that Shimano will also be involved in independently organized youth tournaments including the Lake Fork Open in Texas among others.

“We are constantly researching key events across the country where we can interact with youth anglers,” said Hyla. “On the special Shimano youth program web site – set to launch in January 2017, we will be consistently updating our event schedule, along with announcing plans for Shimano ‘Career Night’ seminars at select tournaments.”

Along with the fishing tournament activity, Shimano is making fishing advocacy and conservation a major element of its youth program, notes Hyla. Those involved in the program will be introduced to not only Shimano’s initiatives and programs like its support in developing live release boats and water weigh-in systems, and also learn about the positive image anglers have as conservationists. “We want them to become stewards of the resource, and instill in them proper fish care and selective harvest practices,” Hyla said. “As we further develop our youth program, we’ll provide information and video shorts to assist with their advocacy and conservation ethics. And in early 2017, we’ll be announcing details on Shimano’s student scholarship program so they can take that next step to assist them with their higher education plans.”

For more information on becoming involved in the program – at either a coach level or as a student, contact Shimano Youth Fishing Coordinator Frank Hyla at [email protected], or visit Shimano’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ShimanoYouthAnglers/.

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