Isn’t it amazing when fishing becomes a vehicle for helping people? Such is the case of young Caroline Lewis, a 10-year-old girl with her own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. A fisher-girl since she was just 3, Caroline excels at both freshwater and saltwater fishing and has logged some incredible catches — including bull reds, cobia, large sharks, mahi mahi, red snapper, largemouth bass and jack crevalle. Her passion for fishing led to her becoming a conservationist, something her dad, Tom, believes will eventually become her career.
During 2020, at the ripe old age of 9, Caroline caught her first cobia. In all of the excitement, she yelled, “Girls can fish!” Instantly, that became her tagline. From there, Caroline had a logo designed along with a group page for friends and family to share her fishing expertise and catches. What was intended to be a small family-only way to share her passion for fishing quickly gained popularity. Now, Kids Can Fish has grown to more than 6,000 members. Soon, outside entities wanted to support her creation, so the Kids Can Fish Foundation (KCFF) was established as a charitable organization.
Some of KCFF’s most popular features are selecting a “Kid of the Day” and the “Kid of the Month,” which is voted on by group members. The winning child receives a gift pack that contains fishing gear, tackle, apparel and a gift for the parent for supporting their child. Kids Can Fish has become one of the largest online “brag boards” for families to share their fishing accomplishments while reinforcing the importance of conservation to these young anglers.
KCFF has branched out even further with fishing camps and clinics, with Caroline leading the charge in teaching other kids about fishing and conservation. Participants also receive fishing rod and reel combos, apparel, and live instruction from volunteers.
Caroline also excels at throwing a cast net, which has led to sponsorships from Promar, Ahi USA, Fishbites, Batson Enterprises and Panther Martin — companies that are helping to fund kid’s fishing clinics. Another impressive and heartwarming accomplishment was a fundraiser for a boy named Nick in Wisconsin who loves to ice fish but was born paralyzed. A KCFF fundraiser brought in enough money to buy Nick an all-terrain wheelchair; now he can access fishing spots he couldn’t reach before.
With all of the lengthy discussions about how to get more kids involved in fishing, perhaps we only have to turn to the kids themselves and let them lead the way, as Caroline Lewis is doing.