Capt. Don Dingman’s idea of hosting a TV fishing show with kids as guests were met with skepticism by a producer.
“He wanted me to follow a script, say all the right things, do this and do that,” recalled Dingman. “I wanted to be me, not someone else.”
Fifteen seasons later, and counting, Hook the Future is a mainstay of TV fishing shows.
Taking kids fishing is the fundamental theme. There is much more to the message conveyed by the hosts and guests. Youths play the starring role, and the fish are the co-stars. Dingman is somewhere in between, mentoring and instilling confidence in his guests.
“I am blessed to pass that on to the kids,” said Dingman.
Dingman and his guests fish all over the world, from Alaska to Guatemala. Skills range from first timers to avid anglers. The kids are front and center of everything from gearing up to landing the fish.
Not long after the show came on the air, Dingman experienced a life-changing event. That happened after the death of his son, Brian, who was 22 years old.
“My whole life changed, and I had to ask myself what I wanted to do with it,” he said.
The show theme remained the same with a renewed focus. Helping kids in need through the meaning of fishing became the angle.
“In this fast paced world you don’t stop to take in and appreciate what really matters,” he said. “After I lost Brian, I really developed a better sense of what is important, and it’s what I try to convey on the show.”
A result of what really mattered became the Hook the Future Foundation. It has helped Guatemalan children learn English, make improvements to schools there and more.
Dingman also spreads the good will of fishing at clinics sponsored by Carolina Skiff. This year about a dozen clinics are being held at boat and outdoor shows.
“Teaching the fundamentals of fishing and about tackle selection is a given,” said Dingman.
“What else we do is teach parents and guardians about getting involved in fishing, how it can instill confidence in kids, and make a lifelong connection between adults and children.”
Carolina Skiff is providing motivation for all of the above. Attend a clinic and sign up for the chance to win a 15 JV CC. The boat will include a tilt trailer and 25 h.p. Mercury FourStroke outboard.
Through it, all Dingman stays true to the core idea of the show. Taking kids fishing and instilling confidence in them.
“It’s not so much about the fish as it is the experience,” he explained. “It’s always about experiencing things, wildlife and nature, they’ve never before experienced.”
“Soaking in that moment, when you share it with someone like a kid still gives me chill bumps.”
There will be plenty of those moments coming up this season.
On Sportsman Channel, the show airs at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 6 a.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. All times EDT. Hook the Future premieres in July on World Fishing Network (WFN) and FOX Sports South in September.
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