Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) has launched a “Youth Fishing Passport” program to introduce and connect youth with a lifetime of excellent fishing opportunities across Connecticut.
The new “Youth Fishing Passport,” is available free of charge and is a ticket for youngsters to access fishing information and fishing related activities as well as promoting a sense of environmental stewardship at an early age.
Information about the benefits of the Passport program can be found at www.ct.gov/deep/YFP.
Youngsters interested in participating in this program (with their parents/guardian permission) can register online for their free 2013 Youth Fishing Passport through the same electronic system used to obtain fishing and hunting licenses, permits and tags at www.ct.gov/deep/sportsmenlicensing.
Participation is open to anyone under 16 years of age, including the very youngest children, who can be registered by their parents.
“The Passport program will introduce young anglers to the state’s many fishing opportunities and engage them in a lifetime of appreciation for Connecticut’s beautiful natural resources,” said Susan Whalen, Deputy Commissioner of DEEP. “Encouraging young people to spend time outdoors with a family activity such as fishing is good for their health and for the health of our environment.”
A number of special fishing-related programs are being built around the Passport, and various recreational fishing vendors will be offering free products and discounts to passport holders. By registering through DEEP’s on-line sportsmen’s licensing system and providing an email address, participants will receive email communications about special events, promotions, and fishing opportunities specifically designed for youth passport holders.
Participants who register for a Passport will be issued a life-time Conservation ID number and a document similar to a fishing license. As with fishing and hunting licenses, the free Passport should be renewed annually. Also like fishing and hunting licenses, the same Conservation ID number should be used from year to year, and as the participant grows older, eventually used to obtain their adult fishing and/or hunting licenses.
DEEP believes there are a number of benefits to using the online licensing system to issue Passports. “Using the same system that all other anglers and hunters use is intended to provide youngsters with a sense of belonging to the active and enthusiastic angler community in our state,” said Deputy Commissioner Whalen. “Obtaining a conservation ID number that will be used throughout their life will encourage young people to continue to support fishing programs and take an active role in protecting Connecticut’s natural resources as they get older.”
The “Youth Fishing Passport” is one of several DEEP initiatives aimed at connecting young people with the outdoors. Chief among them is the agency’s very successful No Child Left Inside initiative (www.NoChildLeftInside.org) that is intended to introduce children to the outdoors and the wonders of nature, build interest in environmental protection and showcase Connecticut’s many outdoor opportunities.
DEEP is currently building various support materials for the Youth Fishing Passport program. Among the offerings now available at www.ct.gov/deep/YFP are two fishing activities intended to encourage fishing throughout the year and throughout the state — a virtual Fishing Challenge (young anglers can compare catches online) and Fish- Geo “Catching” (similar to Geo caching, except that the goal is to catch certain fish species from specific water bodies located throughout the state) and several incentives provided by the recreational fishing industry.
Some early incentives include a free bag of Berkley Power Bait for the first 1,000 youth to register for the passport. Additionally, J.F. Griffin Publishing, LLC, publishers of the CT Anglers Guide and CT Hunting & Trapping, will be sponsoring a Youth Fishing Passport Sweepstakes. Prizes include a fishing charter for a family (the grand prize), three second place prizes of a fishing gear pack from Berkley and Shakespeare, and six third place prizes of Shakespeare Rod and Reel combinations. Details and information are available on the Youth Fishing Passport webpage.
The Youth Fishing Passport program is evolving, with activities currently taking place and additional opportunities added over time. A youth fishing calendar of events posted by fishing clubs, watershed associations and tackle shops will be available soon.
For those anglers age 16 and older, licenses can be obtained using the on-line system, or at one of the many participating town halls, tackle retailers and DEEP offices. For a complete list of vendors, visit the DEEP website (www.ct.gov/deep/fishing) or call DEEP Licensing and Revenue 860-424-3105.
Youth anglers are reminded that while fishing licenses are only required for those 16 years of age and older, all fishing regulations still apply. Anglers can find all the fishing regulations (plus other fishing related information) in the Connecticut Angler’s Guide, online at www.ct.gov/deep/anglersguide. Print versions of the guides are available from many town clerks and bait and tackle stores, or by contacting DEEP’s Inland Fisheries Division 860-424-FISH.
Additionally, Fisheries and Wildlife may be found on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/CTFishandWildlife. This page features a variety of information on fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching in Connecticut.