A Fish a Day
Keith Miller completes his yearlong quest and encourages kids (and parents) to go fishing.
By Dyanne Fry Cortez
On April Fool’s Day 2011, Keith Miller set out on what some might call a fool’s errand. He proposed to catch a fish every day for a year.
Miller figured he had a fighting chance. He’d done it once before, without fanfare, as a purely personal challenge. This time, he chose to tell the world and invite the public to share the adventure. The idea was to generate some buzz around his favorite sport and encourage others — especially children — to give it a try.
Over the next 12 months, including that “leap day” on Feb. 29, the Waco angler fished streams, lakes, ponds and bays all over Texas. He caught catfish, sunfish, crappie, ladyfish, snook and assorted other species, using only artificial lures. Kids and their parents turned out to fish with Miller at state parks and special events. He cast his way through a punishing drought, record high temperatures and two strep-throat infections.
When he crossed his self-imposed finish line on March 31, 2012, Miller had more than 800 fans following his quest on Facebook. A pledge drive associated with his challenge helped the Houston-based Junior Anglers and Hunters of America (JrAHA) raise funds to take 400 inner-city kids on fishing trips this year.
All of which leaves Miller feeling that his quest really made a difference.
“I get notes and I hear from people in person how I’ve inspired them to get out fishing and take their kids, their church members,” he says. “That never gets old. I heard it so many times throughout the year.”
Keith Miller of Waco caught a fish a day for a year and invited the public to share the adventure.
Miller knows a lot about where fish hide, how weather affects them and what types of lures they’ll take. He is not, however, a professional angler. He works in the compliance office at the Baylor University athletics department, making sure every athlete is eligible to play. The university sits right on the Brazos River, and he caught some of those fish on his lunch hour.
Favorite fishing buddies include his wife, Heather, who went along on several trips, and 5-year-old nephew Mason, who knows how to reel in a bass. Last Christmas, his niece and nephew gave Miller a set of hand-decorated “fishy banks” stuffed with spare change. They asked him to give the money to JrAHA so other kids would get a chance to fish.
Miller also developed a following among kids in his neighborhood, who enjoy fishing with him in subdivision ponds. Their enthusiasm helped keep him on task.
“I’d get home from work and the kids would just be lined up ready to go. You can’t deny a bunch of little kids waiting outside with fishing poles in hand. It’s a great motivation,” he says, laughing.
While this past year was a lot of fun, Miller won’t say it was easy.
“This is not a task to take on lightly,” he said. “It’s a huge mental undertaking, a huge physical undertaking, even if we had perfect weather every day. To have ponds and rivers and creeks dry up the way they did [in summer 2011], it really did get difficult to find places that I could access and fish that were willing to be active.”