Tony reflects on the little ones he is meeting at events and his own personal influences growing up.
THE MIND OF A CHILD
I am very grateful for this blog series. I find myself right after posting each new blog wondering what I'm going to write about next time. It seems as I make my way through my daily life something or someone or both inspires me to share my thoughts. I recently thought of my high school English teacher "she would probably have a heart attack if she knew I was providing blog articles for all to read".
Fishing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My first fish was caught from a over stocked pond at a tourist attraction where my dad took me as a very young boy. Somewhere in the family chronicles of photo albums is a picture of me, in a what looks to be Scooby Doo bathing suit resembling underwear, a cane pole, and a big trout suspended in the air as I landed it. I realize my reflecting back is quite a bit more interesting to me than those wishing I would get to the point. Hopefully this will all come together like a good mystery.
What a honor and privilege it is to represent Sportsman Boats and all my sponsors. When people talk to me and I tell them I fish on a professional level full time the response is always the same, "must be nice to get paid to do what you love" assuming all we do is wake up and go fishing. I absolutely love what I do. Truth of the matter is you better also like meeting people, greeting, interacting with them for as many hours as it takes to fish a tournament. I enjoy this aspect almost as much as fishing.
Having sponsors is a great responsibility. In most cases you become the face and personality many associate with those who have entrusted you with their brand. I have made many new friends at boat shows and other events I attend to support the brands I represent. I often reflect on my day after such events. I find it rewarding knowing I was able to share my knowledge of Sportsman Boats to help future owners choose models that best suit their needs.
What I find truly amazing at these events, which are very family oriented, is seeing the reaction of youngsters as I interact with them. Kids are kids and are more than happy to climb in a new boat on display and test the comfortable seats and every inch of the boat until the parent takes control.
There is something in the eyes of a child when they see a angler with all those different logos on a jersey. As if amazed with curiosity, some are very shy, while others are as full of information as I am and ready to tell me all about what they think. I find that precious, and stop what I'm doing to entertain this curious mind.
In most cases, I am readily equipped with products from my sponsors such as artificial baits, samples of FINS BRAID, or stickers as well as other promotional material. I recently attended a very large event and had the best time with the kids and parents there. I don't know of any other place where a three dollar pack of artificial bait or sticker has so much value. I allow kids to pick their favorite color bait, and when I give it to them and say "ok go catch you a big fish" it's almost like Christmas to them. The expressions are priceless and at the end of the day that is what I reflect on with a smile.
I may contribute to the purchase of a new Sportsman boat through sharing my knowledge or convince an angler to purchase what I use fishing on the tournament trail. Most importantly being a positive influence on the youth is near and dear to my heart and means the most at the end of the day. I hope in all these experiences that I leave a impression on a child that stores in their mind the love of fishing and boating and although in their years of becoming an adult with their own children the memory of the angler may fade, the memory of a childhood experience won't and is passed on.
I feel like fishing and being on the water in a boat is a great life direction to share. With all the games and gadgets that confine teens to their room or replaces nature and the great outdoors. I am happy to see high school fishing teams as a school sport. I recall seeing a few high school teams at a recent show. Clearly a bright spot on the future, even to the point of achieving a fishing college scholarship. One of these teams stood out as everyone passed by our booth. I had just finished showing a fisherman a Cinnetic reel when they approached and I couldn't help but over hearing one urging the other to go somewhere else. They had been standing near by for a while as if waiting for something or someone. The reply from the teammate that was anchored so to speak just to my left and within hearing was "hang on I want to meet this guy." At that moment I felt solidified and would have followed the young man out the show, if necessary, to make sure he got to meet me. It is a blessing to be in this industry and I hope every professional angler will take that extra time to influence the future of our sport as I know many do.
To parents I challenge you to seek out what fishing offers as a family function. You don't have to be a pro or even good at it to make great memories. Take a kid fishing, experience the outdoors with your family and make memories to last forever!
Thank you all for reading my blog. Please feel free to share, and follow me on social media.
Until next time! Stay safe! and I will see ya on the water.
Tony "Redfish" Gaskin