The culmination of most learn-to-fish programs is an actual fishing trip, which is highly recommended. In most cases, the trip will be a one-day outing during a weekend, but this is highly variable depending on the program. In some situations, multiple fishing opportunities are provided, which is a best practice if at all possible.
An important consideration is whether participants in the program can bring their families to the fishing event. In most cases, this should be discouraged. Having additional novices with less skills and knowledge than those who participated in the class will be a distraction to the mentors and instructors, and will cause them to divide their attention between the participants and the family members. Ideally, the participants will learn enough in the class to be able teach to their families at another time.
The fishing trip should be designed as a learning experience that continues to add to the lessons learned during the classroom sessions. It is an opportunity for the participants to bring all of these lessons into focus and apply them in a real fishing situation.
It should be more than a “guided” trip. Let the participants participate in making decisions on specific locations to fish, bait or lure to use, etc., under the watchful eye of their mentor/guide. The role of the mentor/guide is to assist participants in making decisions, offer suggestions, and ensure that it is a safe experience.
Because the participants probably will not have grown up in a fishing household, they will need additional coaching and support. In some situations, this may mean calming them down; in others this may mean reducing their anxiety.
Ample time should be allocated to answer questions and provide explanations on items to consider as situations arise. Above all it should be a low-pressure, fun experience where the outcome is measured in continued learning, and not in the number of fish taken.
However, whenever possible, schedule the trip at a time and location where there is a high probability for catching fish.
These outcomes should be clearly communicated to both the participants and mentors/guides as part of the pre-trip orientation.