ASI reels in newcomers to the art of fishing

By Zachary Chen; April 20, 2021

In light of the global pandemic, recreational fishing has seen one of its biggest increases in popularity this past year as people look for a way to stay active and socially distanced. Bringing this trend to the campus community, ASI Campus Recreation hosted free introductory level fishing workshops in March and April through its Adventures Virtual Programs.

ASI’s Adventures Virtual Programs are a series of Zoom workshops dedicated to providing entry level courses for a variety of activities such as camping, hiking and other outdoor skills.

Doug Hayes, ASI Campus Recreation’s scuba dive center coordinator, is the instructor of the fishing workshops. Hayes is currently a certified fishing instructor through the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and looks to spread his passion through teaching.

Pier fishing is one of the many options fisherman have in Southern California. Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego (Courtesy of Zachary Chen)

“Growing up, fishing has always been a part of my life and it’s a part of some of the best memories I have,” Hayes said. “I want to give students and other people who have an interest, or don’t know where to start, an avenue to learn how to do different things when it comes to fishing.”

Hayes has led workshops covering both modern and fly fishing techniques. Both of the fishing workshops covered topics ranging from necessary equipment, regulations, local waterways and outdoor ethics.

For fourth-year psychology student, Julissa Pasillas-Pablo, the workshops offered through the Adventures Virtual Program are a fun way for her to unwind at the end of the week.

“I don’t really have any experience with many outside activities, and I enjoy using these workshops as an end of the week treat,” Pasillas-Pablo said. “They’re really fun and interesting, so I like showing up to them.”

Fishing, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, comes with various physical and mental health benefits such as stress relief, improvement in health and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the environment. The nature of the sport also keeps participants distanced from other people, which can be beneficial during a global pandemic.

The Wedge in Newport Beach is one of the premier fishing spots in Southern California. (Courtesy of Zachary Chen)

“Fishing is a social distancing sport,” said Hayes. “You’re never too close to another fisherman because you don’t want to intrude on the spot they picked. It’s a great activity for the time we’re in.”

Recreational fishing has always been a staple of Southern California and saw even more participation during the pandemic with an 11% increase compared to 2019.

“A lot of people are looking for hobbies and pastimes and fishing is a way people can get outside in a responsible way,” said Ian Navarro, adventure education coordinator at ASI.

With in-person coursework returning in fall of this year, Navarro and Hayes both look to host more fishing related events in the future.

“We want to eventually introduce in-person workshops this upcoming fall semester,” said Navarro. “It’ll allow us to introduce and develop the skills that we are unable to introduce in a virtual form.”


Feature image courtesy of Clark Young on Unsplash.

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