Bass Pro, Cabela's donate fishing gear, challenging kids to ditch phones

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, along with CEO Johnny Morris, are donating fishing gear to kids in a challenge for families to ditch their digital devices and head outdoors this summer.

The retailers, which merged last year, are donating more than 50,000 fishing rods and reels to not-for-profit partners that help kids “connect to the great outdoors.”

The donation kicks off an annual “Gone Fishing” initiative aimed at introducing millions of kids to the sport of fishing. In addition to the donated rods and reels, Bass Pro and Cabela’s will offer free in-store activities at all locations in North America on June 9-10 and June 16-17.

“In a world where kids are increasingly surrounded by screens and digital distractions, it’s more important than ever to help them discover the joy of fishing,” said Bob Ziehmer, Bass Pro’s senior director of conservation.

Ziehmer added that the company’s donations “underscore our commitment to inspiring the next generation of conservationists, sportsmen and women.”

Customers at Bass Pro and Cabela’s brought in gently used rods and reels during the spring in exchange for discounts on new purchases. The donated gear will be refurbished and distributed to kids.

The company said the merger of Bass Pro and Cabela’s allowed it to make the largest donation in the event’s history. Over the last five years, Bass Pro donated more than 300,000 items to youth-focused organizations such as Boys and Girls Club and Boy Scouts of America.

The free in-store activities include catch-and-release ponds and fishing seminars.