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Wouldn't it be great if there was a fishing school where your ASD kids could learn to fish in a safe and valuing environment and achieve specific NDIS plan goals at the same time? Figure out what you want for your child from this experience. Do you want friendships, being in and functioning as part of a group, following directions? Or perhaps his separation anxiety is calmed by being close to the ocean. What about tactile issues. Sitting on sand or the feel of the scales of a fish. What about the proprioceptive issues? Feeling where he is in space. What an interesting experience feeling for the first time the sand and receding water between one's toes would be.
Well, guess what? There is.
Seventeen years ago, when Samantha and Jeremy Beckmann were young parents, a family fishing outing attracted the attention of a dozen or so other beach-going kids. Intrigued with what the family was doing, they were eager to be in on it. The enthusiasm the Beckmann’s encountered that day prompted them to establish 2 Bent Rods.
Samantha and Jeremy determined that not only would they instruct kids how to fish, but they would also teach: -
- an appreciation for the environment
- sustainability for the waterways
- fishing rules
- identifying dangerous beach creatures
- and sun protection, and more
Over time, the school’s repertoire of classes grew to include: -
- Family fishing lessons
- Kids’ group lessons
- One on one lessons
- School and vacation care incursions (2 Bent Rods goes to a school or vacation care centre for two hours instruction per thirty children) and excursions (five hours at the beach, dam or river)
- Cook the catch
- Blokes Beer ‘n Bass Weekends
- Corporate Team Building days
- Pest Management on the waterways
- Kids’ or adults’ birthday parties
- Council programmes
- Fishing competitions
2 Bent Rods is strongly committed to teaching ‘safe, responsible and sustainable fishing practices around Brisbane and South East Queensland’. And it’s the industry leader in Pest Fishing Event Management.
In some areas, numbers of pest fish have increased so significantly that they vastly exceed the tallies of native species.
“Though the two primary pest fish (carp and tilapia) are consumed in some countries, eating them is prohibited in Queensland and it’s illegal to have them in your possession. So, we have pest fishing events where participants help us catch them, Sam said.”
Carp, which are native to central Asia, are usually found in still or slow-flowing waters at low altitudes, especially in areas where there is abundant aquatic vegetation. They can also be found in some rivers and coastal lakes.
Several factors contribute to their abundance. There are no known predators pursuing adult carp. They will live in degraded habitats, including stagnant waters, tolerating lower oxygen levels and more water pollutants than most native fish. They mature in a year (males) and two years (females) and produce large numbers of eggs.
Changes to water flows, declining water quality, and other variations to river habitats over the past few decades have negatively affected many native fish while favouring carp. The floods of 2011 contributed to the increase in the area carp inhabit and in the escalation in their number.
The tilapia, a fish imported from Africa, is an equally destructive pest. It’s highly adaptable to different water conditions and breeds prolifically. Tilapia compromise the quality of the water in rivers and dams, by aggressively competing with native species for food and space, causing diminishing numbers of native fish.
“People don’t always know that tilapia have to be killed facing away from the water. They hold their eggs or fry (tiny offspring) in their mouths and will spit them into the water when caught,” said Sam. Since they produce incredible numbers of eggs, the result could be catastrophic.
2 Bent Rods holds a license to take patrons onto the rivers and dams to fish the pests, then in accordance with local laws, Sam and her staff appropriately dispose of the catch. One five-hour excursion resulted in the catching and disposing of over 900 pest fish from one waterway. Two subsequent expeditions resulted in lesser numbers of the pests being caught, which meant the pest management classes were working!
2 Bent Rods works with three SE Qld councils in the management of pest fish. These excursions are also a great corporate team-building activity.
“Councils will also want us to work with a certain demographic sometimes. For instance, we’ve conducted ‘Gold ‘n Kids’ (Growing Old Living Dangerously) classes. These were for kids to enjoy with their grandparents during holiday periods,” Sam said.
“Sometimes Councils absorb some costs associated with these ‘clinics’, making them affordable for families. We teach kids (from age four) to catch bait, tie knots, bait hooks, cast a rod and much more. When the clinics take place, they are popular, and bookings are essential. We supply all the fishing equipment.”
“I always wanted to be a fisherwoman,” Sam told me. “As a child, I went with my father on fishing expeditions and loved it. When Jeremy and I saw the genuine interest from those kids that day we took our kids out, we knew what we had to do.”
Sam’s enthusiasm never wanes, and because of her lifelong passion, she has amassed a wealth of knowledge about SE Qld’s waterways. She is passionate about teaching students to appreciate and preserve the natural habitat of the region.
“A couple of years ago, we had our first autistic student. It delighted me to see this child feel receding water and sand between his toes for the first time. I love to see all the ‘first times’ for kids. Some have never seen a yabby or held a fish. I’d like to teach more children with autism. They are lovely to have in the class. We also have some staff on the spectrum who have passed on their knowledge and wisdom regarding how best to work and interact with kids who have autism.”
Sam’s happy to accommodate any child with a disability, providing she’s provided with the information and tools required to ensure the child enjoys the fishing experience.
2 Bent Rods is an award-winning organisation. It has twice won the What’s on 4 Kids award and has been a finalist in the 2019 and 2020 Aus Mumpreneur Awards and the 2011 and 2014 Healthy Waterways Awards. At the end of 2020, it won Small Business Achievement from the Community Achievement Awards and Sam won Fearless Educator at the Roar Awards.
If you want to learn to fish, this is surely an excellent choice of learning environment for you.
“We’ve organised classes up to June 2022 and we’re currently taking bookings,” Sam said.
To book, phone Sam on 0403 713 820