Teach a Scout to Fish and…

Fishing is a skill that is typically associated with scouting. Fishing stories are learned and spoken on nearly every campout in my troop. There are many rewarding skills that are taught in scouting but with fishing, this is definitely a skill that has a great payoff… You get to eat. 🙂

Fishing is a great skill to learn and is best taught through experiences. Games can help here.


While there is no better teacher than experience there has to be some instruction and direction given before games like this are run. Here is a a proven method for teaching basics of fishing in a fun and interactive way to a lot of different age and skill levels especially when you can’t get to the water. 


With basic fishing fundamentals, a scout will learn to identify local fish species, where those fish could likely be found and the equipment to use to get them. A game that can be fun while teaching all this would be a great way to get interest and increase the likelihood of a successful fishing trip.


Equipment needed for up to 3 full patrols:

  • 2 fishing poles, per patrol, with line (closed faced and open faced reals) without any hooks
  • Paper clips or binder clips (binders work the best.)
  • 6-7 laminated, color photos of fish local to region you are fishing (pan fish, sport fish and catfish)
  • 5-6 laminated, color pictures of different fishing environments (submerged logs/trees, grasses, open water, river channels, inlets, etc)
  • 5-8 different types of lures or fishing rigs (hook&bobber, jigs, rooster tails, buzz baits, catfish rigs, bass rigs, etc)
  • Several people/adults who can identify the fish. (fishing judges)
  • At least 1-2 people who understands where to find the fish and what lures to use for the best chance in catching them. (fishing professionals)

Pre-work: Prior to the game there should be some instruction and talking points to all the cards (fish, location and equipment) along with how to tie on the binder clips or paper clips with proper knots. 

binder clips work the best. Paper clips work too but the cards can slip off easier.


The Game: The intent of the game is for the scout to choose from a pile of opportunity cards (environment and equipment), attach it to the end of the line. Then cast that (can be 5-8 feet out) to the fishing professionals who have all the different types of fish cards. If the lures and locations match up to a particular fish the fishing professionals will attach the fish to the clip and tug the line simulating a fish is on. If the location and lure type isn’t really good the fishing professionals can tell a story about how the fishing was poor that day and explain why that lure and location combination isn’t really a good one. (An example would be a hook and bobber in the middle of the lake/pond with no structure around.)

  • Each patrol must select an environment card and an equipment card and attach that to the binder/paper clip. 
  • Once a fish is caught the patrol member must take that fish to a fishing judge to correctly identify it. 
  • The fish card is taken back to the fishing professional and the environment and lure card is put back in the opportunity area for others to use.
  • The first patrol who catches and properly identifies 4 fish is the 1st place winner. 
Simple laminated cards work the best.


Game Strategy: This game teaches the scouts practical knowledge of what to use depending on the environment and the fish they are attempting to catch. It also provides the following skillsets:

  • knot tying
  • fish identification and likelihood of location.
  • different types of lures and what fish go after them.
  • what the pole and line could feel like when a fish is “hooked”.

You can always add other things like time of day, barometric values, overcast or sunny days, raining, pre-storm, post-storm, color of lures, size of lures, etc to hone more advanced skills.  I would personally recommend doing that only after a few fishing trips or after the game has been played for awhile. This is so you don’t overload the scouts with a ton of information without the proper time to digest and apply it to real world scenarios. What does your unit do to teach fishing? How have you made it more likely for success?

Good luck out there scouters!