(Photo caption: Mikki Diello from Kastking Fishing Products shows a fishing bag to attendees.)

In early September, more than 100 high school anglers, boat captains and their coaches attended a free fishing seminar in Cumming. Organized by professional angler Phil Johnson, the event was designed to help young anglers learn the ropes of competitive fishing.

“We had an excellent group and several coaches have asked us to come to their parts of the state to do a similar program,” said Johnson. “The comments we heard were very supportive.”

Johnson, who grew up fishing in Central Georgia, said he wants young people to learn about the opportunities provided by fishing. He brought together several other fishing guides and competitive anglers who shared their experiences and tips in 10- to 15-minute presentations.

“Then we divided the attendees into smaller groups to spend time with each of our speakers so that they could ask questions,” he said.

Teams came from as far away as Troup and Paulding counties.

“None of the presenters was allowed to sell anything,” he said. “However, several of the participants went fishing the next day and caught fish using baits they’d heard about at the show. They posted their catches on Facebook.”

He plans to offer the seminars twice a year. He said he will continue the format of no on-site sales.

“This is all about the kids, mentoring them and providing access to free information and professionals,” he said. “Based on what we saw in September, it will only continue to grow bigger and be able to reach more youth anglers.”

For more information, call Johnson at 770 366-8845 or email him at pjohnson15@hotmail.com.

Photo: by Phil Johnson