Lawrence Euteneier reports. With winter and the planning / talking portion of the year now over, focus is now on getting fishers with vision loss out on the water. Hands-on fishing sessions with novice blind fishers have been arranged, blind fishing tournaments organized, and Further refinements to talking electronics and sea trials of new innovations, such as the new Minn Kota I-Pilot, are underway. But perhaps one of the more exciting, grass-roots, projects in the works this year is a new initiative called “Blind Fishing Buddies”.
The idea for Blind Fishing Buddies came about after hearing from numerous enthusiastic non-sighted fishers expressing a common concern, how to find sighted fishers open to having a non-sighted person as a fishing companion for the day. These folks have the skill, gear and desire; theyâ€™re just missing a seat in a boat.
This year there will be a pilot test of the initiative; matching local sighted and non-sighted fishers for a day on the water â€“ timing and location of their choosing. If all goes well, the hope is to role the â€œmatch-makingâ€ service out to other communities in 2011.
Some of the advantages in having a non-sighted fisher as a companion on your boat include:
*Weâ€™ll never criticize your boat handling skills
*You donâ€™t have to worry about us wondering off and getting lost
* You can claim that your fish are all hogs
In all seriousness though, while I personally enjoy the thrill of venturing out alone on the water in my own portable light-weight electric-powered fishing boat, access by others to the types of technologies Iâ€™m experimenting with is limited, and letâ€™s face it, fishing along side a good buddy can make a day on the water that much more enjoyable. Also, while fishers with vision loss are often referred to as, â€œfishing machinesâ€, given our heightened dependence on the sense of touch, getting around on land or water can still pose a challenge.
2010 activities to open up the sport of fishing to the over 14 million Americans and Canadians with vision loss have already included:
*13 days (112 hours) exhibiting the Blind Fishing Boat at shows
*8 key-note presentations
*Publication of how-to articles on baitcasting, tackle organizing, introducing newly blinded Vets to fishing, etc.
*5 â€œFeel the Biteâ€ how-to fishing articles published in mainstream fishing mags
*Coverage in 3 newspapers and one TV news channel
*Feature spread in Outdoor Canada magazine
*14 new reports posted on www.blindfishingboat.com <http://www.blindfishingboat.com/>
Competitive fishing events for 2010 include:
*â€œBlind Anglers International Tournamentâ€
*â€œOttawa Valley South Bass Masterâ€ tournament series
*Carp Zone 2nd Edition
*â€œOttawa River Walleye League circuitâ€
*Renegade Pro/Am and B1 annual Bass derbies
*â€North Carolina Visually Impaired Fishing Tournamentâ€
Additional confirmed outreach commitments for 2010 include:
*3-days of hands-on fishing instruction for visually impaired campers at the CNIBâ€™s Lake Joseph Centre
*Coverage in â€œCanadian Fly Fisherâ€ magazine
*Workshop presentation on â€œAchieving Successâ€ at the Wayne Gretzky Score Camp for Youth with vision loss
*1-hour feature on A-Channel TV
*Day on the water with military vets with disabilities
*Speaking at and competing in an international blind sailing regatta on San Francisco Bay
*Coverage in the June issue of Readers Digest (Canada)
Donâ€™t forget to check out www.blindfishingboat.com for the latest news and answers to all your questions concerning fishing with vision loss.
Blind Fishing Boat .Com
The â€œBlind Fishing Boatâ€ is a not-for-profit initiative to open up the sport of fishing to the over 14 million Americans and Canadians living with vision loss.