Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops donating 40,000 rods and reels in nationwide effort to get more kids outside

Gone Fishing movement aims to introduce fishing to families everywhere with free activities, donations and partnerships

Noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is challenging families everywhere to get off the couch and head outdoors to discover the fun of fishing this summer. Bass Pro Shops is donating 40,000 rods and reels to nonprofit organizations that help kids from all backgrounds connect to the outdoors. The effort is part of Gone Fishing, a nationwide movement that aims to introduce the sport to families everywhere through donations, nonprofit partnerships and free catch-and-release ponds at Bass Pro Shops locations across North America on June 10-11 and 17-18.

Morris was inspired to create the initiative after reflecting on childhood memories of fishing with his family. These experiences helped shape his lifelong passion for the outdoors and wildlife conservation.

“The most special memories in life come from spending time in nature with those you care about. For me, it all started with fishing,” said Johnny Morris, who spent his boyhood summers fishing with his family on the beautiful rivers in Missouri’s Ozark mountains. “We want to help as many kids as we can discover the joy of fishing – on the ocean, in a lake or on a stream – so we’re donating thousands of fishing poles, inviting families to catch their first fish at Bass Pro Shops and encouraging everyone to take someone they love fishing this summer.”

National Donation Day

During a national donation day on Thursday, June 8, Bass Pro Shops is donating 40,000 rods and reels to nonprofit organizations that connect kids to the outdoors and help get more kids outside. Customers brought in their gently used rods and reels this spring in exchange for discounts on new gear. Bass Pro Shops refurbished each piece to ensure it was fish-ready for kids. In the last five years, Bass Pro Shops has donated more than 250,000 items to youth-focused nonprofit organizations including Boys and Girls Club and Boy Scouts of America.

Free Family Activities

There are a variety of free activities and special giveaways taking place in all Bass Pro Shops locations across the U.S. and Canada during Gone Fishing that are perfect for first-time and avid anglers alike. Family-friendly activities taking place on consecutive June weekends (June 10-11, June 17-18) include:

Free Catch-And-Release Ponds: Kids are invited to experience the excitement of fishing at in-store catch-and-release ponds and receive a “first fish certificate” to commemorate their big accomplishment. Free photo downloads of their first fish are also available. (Noon – 4 p.m.)*

Free Gone Fishing Introductory Guide: Learn the fundamentals and get tips on best local fishing spots with this family-friendly, informative guide. Available while supplies last.

Free Fishing Seminars: In-store fishing seminars offer kids and families basic fishing information and tips to make for an enjoyable experience.

Free Gone Fishing Door Hanger: The first 100 catch-and-release pond anglers per location each day will receive a commemorative Gone Fishing door hanger perfect for letting parents, siblings, teachers and friends know a fishing adventure is in progress.

Video Game Trade-Ins: Bring in a video game and receive $5 off a new youth starter rod and reel combo $19.99 or more. Collected video games will be donated to the AMVETS Association.**

Get Involved

Anglers of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to join the movement by posting a selfie with a fish to social media using the hashtag #gonefishing, and pledge to take someone fishing; participants are also encouraged to donate to Teach a Child to Fish. Founded by former professional football player Kendall Newson, Teach a Child to Fish is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing underprivileged, disabled and less fortunate children the opportunity to enjoy nature through fishing, outdoor activities and educational programs.

A Leader in Conservation

Gone Fishing is one of many ways Bass Pro Shops and Johnny Morris are inspiring everyone to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. The company is a leader in protecting wildlife habitat and introducing new audiences to the outdoors. One significant effort underway is Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, envisioned as the largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world. Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1.5-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds, and an immersive wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. Located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, the 320,000-square foot experience celebrates people who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water.

For more information about Gone Fishing, visit

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