Industry Insights

Reaching First-Time Outdoor Enthusiasts

by Katie Hayward

Who taught me how to fish?

It wasn’t my grandfather or my dad or my brother. Not a college roommate or a co-worker or even my husband.

I learned to fish from YouTube.

Not because I had to.

I learned to fish for the same reason I learned to play the ukulele, took up archery, learned to paint, planted a garden, studied photography, started tent camping and the million other hobbies I’ve picked up and put down throughout my twenty-seven years of life — I was bored.

I was bored, and everything I needed to know was at my fingertips. As a Millennial, it’s been that way since I was about 10 years old.

So, two years ago, I stood on a cliff overlooking a lake in South Dakota and promised myself that I would catch a fish that day.

Equipped with two fishing poles and a giant tackle box full of things I didn’t know what to do with (all recently inherited from my late grandfather-in-law) I set out with my husband.

Seven YouTube videos, three fishing spots, one bottle of pre-mixed margarita, an entire bucket of minnows, one box of night crawlers, fifteen lost hooks, one canoe effort and twelve hours later, I had caught my first small-mouthed bass. (I’m not what you would call a quitter.)

Trolling in a canoe at dusk finally did the trick.

But I didn’t stop there.

Three more YouTube videos later and I had done a pretty darn good job of filleting that fish (while my husband watched, mortified by my sudden ability to behead said fish).

My first time fishing was an experience I’ll never forget, and it is a skill that I still enjoy practicing to this day.

Answer Their Calling

I wasn’t the first person to learn how to fish online, and with the dwindling number of children who frequently play outside (I mean like in the woods with dirt, bugs and trees, oh my) I will certainly not be the last.

In a study conducted and presented by Digital Operative for the Outdoor Industry Association, it was determined that while Millennials and previous generations cited “fun” and “social interaction” as motivators for spending time outside, the next generation, Gen Z, cites “being active and healthy” and “skill mastery” as their top motivating factors.

Looking back, although I am very much a Millennial, I would put my itch for fishing in the “skill mastery” category, and reality is that almost every skill I’ve come to “master” (knitting, cooking and all the aforementioned) I gained a 101 understanding of from the Internet.

Like any brand, outdoors or otherwise, it is important to respond to the generational personality you are catering to. While Millennials are up to bat right now, Gen Z is right around the corner, eager to improve their health and tackle new challenges, smartphone and immediate answers in hand.

For the same reason your teenager is most likely to ask Google the next question that pops into their adolescent head instead of asking you, you should incorporate “how to” content into your editorial calendar.

Current brands that do a great job of educating the novice enthusiast include REI and Orvis.

What skills do you have to share with the world? The ABCs of gun ownership, what to do with that delicious pheasant, native camping 101? Migrate Outdoor specializes in content packages big and small. Thinking about adding an educational aspect to your brand? Shoot us a message at