By Ron Presley
It’s never too early to take kids fishing
Some of the greatest memories of my childhood involved fishing. Getting up early; asking, are we there yet; stopping along the way for breakfast; getting bait at the tackle store; sometimes staying overnight and camping out were part of the trip. These are all great experiences that result in memories that last a lifetime.
Fishing puts us in touch with our environment and instills a need to protect it. With all these things going for it, don’t you think it would be a good idea to get a kid hooked on fishing?
You do not have to be a professional angler to communicate a few simple techniques to your own kids or to someone else’s. The main thing you do is keep it simple. Kids learn fast and the things they learn in their early years will last them a lifetime.
One of the most important issues when fishing with kids is to catch something. Most youngsters will be happier if they catch a lot of smaller fish rather than spending the day looking for the big ones and not catching any. With this end in mind, just keep it simple. Sophisticate strategies, techniques, and bigger fish will come with time. As the kids get bigger the fish will too!
For beginning anglers, a spincast outfit is probably the best bet. There are plenty of combo rod and reels available on the market at very reasonable prices. Just remember, you do get what you pay for but it doesn’t cost much to buy a very dependable spincast rod and reel combo.
Rigging for younger anglers should be simple too. Remember the goal is a lot of fish, not necessarily a big fish. You can use the line that came on your combo and add a small hook with a simple clench knot and show the child how you tie it. Add a small split shot for weight, bait up and start fishing. Worms ae a hard bait to beat for the young inexperienced angler. Most species out there will bite on worms and help you accomplish your goal of a lot of fish.
Try to determine your fishing location ahead of time so you don’t waste time searching for a place to fish. Attention spans are short with most kids so quick action will be a definite plus. The sooner you put a fish in the boat or on the shore the sooner the youngster will be hooked.
You should experiment and determine what works best with your young angler and then stick with it. As the kids get older move them up to spinning gear o baitcasters and teach them other techniques.
Once a little experience has been established move on to a slip sinker rig or maybe a three-way. Once again show the child how to tie them and explain why you use them. This would also be a great time to step up to cut bait and begin to target catfish specifically. Safety is important here. The lesson plan should include the proper way to handle a knife when cutting bait and the proper way to store it when you’re not using it.
There are a growing number of individuals and organizations dedicated to the premise that fishing is good for the kids and educated kids are good for the resource. At the state level, there are many agencies that hosts fishing events for kids. There are also organizations in the private sector that hold events dedicated to kids fishing. Adult anglers can seek out those organizations in their local communities and help them out. They are always in need of qualified volunteers.
Getting the kids interested is one thing, but having a place for them to fish in the future may be another. This is why most of the programs include elements of conservation and wise use of the resource.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. It’s never too early to start teaching our kids how to fish and teaching them respect for the resource. Early education on resource conservation and use, as well as the basic techniques of fishing, will have a lasting impact on our children and the wonderful sport of fishing.
Regardless of what they catch, or how they catch it, be sure to record the success with photos. The photos can be used later to revisit the trip and talk about the experience. If you are lucky you will make a fishing partner for life and elicit the question, “When can we go again?”
Help Your Kids Catch Fish
“A child’s first fishing trip is exciting for both parent and child,” begins a bullet list of helpful hints from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “A fun experience can lead to future years of fishing enjoyment.”
Here are a few of Iowa’s simple tips for taking kids fishing.”
1. Pack plenty of snacks and cold drinks
2. Choose a spot close to home
3. Morning trips are best – the fish bite better and kids have more energy
4. Make sure there are restrooms near
5. Keep the trip short – a couple hours at most
6. Leave your fishing rod at home
7. Remember you are taking the kids — they aren’t taking you
8. Take plenty of breaks from fishing
9. Take plenty of pictures
10. Emphasize that fishing is fun, catching is a bonus