Angler’s Coffee has loved partnering with Hooked On Fishing Park (HOF), and we donated a percentage of our 2021 second-quarter sales to the organization. HOF offers youth, seniors, veterans, and special needs groups free access to education in fishing and water conservation—and, of course, access to glorious days casting on the water.
Now, for the year’s third quarter, we turn our support to an organization with a name that is all about what is to come. But Fishing’s Future is just as deeply rooted in its founder’s storied fishing past and the joy of casting right now, in the present.
Shane Wilson started teaching people how to fish in 1975, but he isn’t someone who only teaches—he also never stops doing. He has fly fished in forty-nine states. He was invited to fish with George H. W. Bush for one of those trips; Wilson tied the president’s favorite fly, and they both found success with it that day.
Wilson held the IGFA Fly Fishing World Record for six-pound tippet class for the whiterock bass from 1996 till 2019. In 2008, he received the Conservationist of the Year Award and the next year, the Outdoor and Wildlife Preservation Award for exemplary contributions, enhancement, and promotion of the Laguna Madre in Texas. Last year, Wilson was inducted into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Those are just some of his fishing and conservation accolades. Even still, Wilson loves something else more. And that thing is giving back to the community. “My entire life has no meaning if I cannot help others,” he says.
That’s the reason I wanted Angler’s to help him with his work. Wilson’s Fishing’s Future organization, which he founded in Texas in 2007, reconnects youth today with nature, encouraging them to be stewards in the future. The organization’s Family Fish Camps (FFC) offer families free fishing activities designed to strengthen bonds and teach responsible, ethical, environmentally conscious lessons.
Camps are kept small—about fifteen to twenty families per camp—so that there is plenty of small-group and one-on-one time with the volunteer leaders. The schedule is intense and fun, so everyone stays interested. Families rotate through different skills, learning about knots; lures and baits; equipment and rigging; habitat, rules, and regulations; and casting. After a couple hours of that, everyone comes together for a picnic lunch and discussion about pollution and the importance of being a good environmental steward. But remember—there is no passive learning in the FFC. The Trashy Tournament quickly commences, with each family receiving garbage bags and gloves before a buzzer sounds, and they’re off! Forgotten fishing line, dropped plastic caps—it all gets collected. Then, as a fishing tournament weighs each fish, the FFC leaders weigh each garbage bag to determine the winner of the Trashy Tournament. The day concludes with fishing, so families can try out their newly acquired skills and take their first fish photos. Everyone leaves camp confident enough to fish on their own. And there are a lot of those people. Fishing’s Future now has chapters not only across Texas but around the US and the UK.
Wilson’s vision for the future is already manifesting. This spring at an event, the founder and president of D.O.A. Fishing Lures, Mark Nichols, made a point of introducing himself to Wilson. Nichols already had a great connection to Fishing’s Future, and he wanted to share that story with Wilson: Thirteen years ago, a mom and her young son attended an FFC; now in his midtwenties, that boy is one of D.O.A.’s pros and captains his own boat. Nichols said that young man attributes his success fishing and guiding to Fishing’s Future. It was at the FFC that he first learned how to tie a fishing knot and caught a redfish.
Wilson’s work with Fishing’s Future resonates with me so much. But so does his pure love of this beautiful art. When I asked him about a preferred fishing spot, he said, “I guess I’d say my favorite place to fly fish is on my feet in the water.” His answer about what he likes to catch is just as simple—and just as poetic and full of joy: “Anything that takes my fly. I do target individual species and aggressively go after particular species when I know they are abundant in certain waters, but I’ll never pull my fly away from a charging smallmouth bass when throwing a spider to a bluegill, nor will I strip my fly away from a carp when going after crappie. The same philosophy goes when I am fishing the salt. If a ladyfish wants to steal my fly while I am stripping it for a redfish, then I guess it’s me and the ladyfish doing battle.”
Maybe someday he and I will lift our Angler’s mugs together as we watch the trout rise, choosing our spots. Coachman’s Blend is his favorite of our coffees, but he speaks just as kindly about the depth of his second favorite, Muddler’s Blend, which reminds him “of a coffee boiled over a campfire with old friends in a soft rain after a good day on the water.” To enjoy a mug and the water with him sounds like a very fine day indeed. Cheers to that future, and to Fishing’s Future.