Trout Park's are a great place to start your trout fishing season! They are stocked very frequently to enhance success for children and novice anglers. This photo of two proud families was taken in 2012 on opening day of fishing season at Black Rock State Park! Photo/Connecticut Fish and Wildlife

Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) has launched a “Youth Fishing Passport” program to introduce kids (16 and under) to fishing opportunities across Connecticut. The new “Youth Fishing Passport,” is available free of charge and allows youngsters to access fishing information and fishing-related activities, as well as promoting a sense of environmental stewardship at an early age.

Kids 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 by CLICKING HERE.  Participation is open to anyone under 16 years of age, including the very youngest children, who can be registered by their parents.

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.

Catch of the day. Photo/Connecticut Fish and Wildlife

Participants who register for a Passport will be issued a lifetime 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.

DEEP is currently building various support materials for the Youth Fishing Passport program. Among the offerings now available at CT/DEEP YOUTH FISHING PROGRAM are 2 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), 3 second place prizes of a fishing gear pack from Berkley and Shakespeare, and 6 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  by CLICKING HERE 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 by CLICKING HERE.  Print versions of the guides are available from many Town Clerks and bait & tackle stores, or by contacting DEEP’s Inland Fisheries Division (860-424-FISH).

Information about the benefits of the Passport program can be found by CLICKING HERE.

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