Every year time is set aside to provide a special emphasis on fishing such as National Hunting and Fishing Day, a free fishing day or days in most states, or Take a Kid Fishing Day.
In truth though, every day is a fine day to introduce youngsters to fishing
Many of my fondest childhood memories are of fishing trips. It didn’t matter whether I tagged along with my father as he fly-fished for trout, knew sheer magic when he decided I was old enough to have my own fly rod, waited for a bobber to bounce while river fishing with my grandfather, or checked trot lines with an old river rat named Al.
No matter what type of fishing or species of fish was involved, it was as if the portals of paradise had opened before me.
Those wonderful carefree hours served me well.As the great outdoors writer Robert Ruark once suggested, getting youngsters involved in fishing is a fine – and free – form of insurance against them getting into trouble.
In my youth those who spent every free moment fishing or hunting were far too busy having fun to take so much as a single step down the path to what was, in those simpler days, known as juvenile delinquency.
Basically, that remains true today. If you imbue a kid with a love of fishing you have provided him with a timeless and treasured gift. There are many ways you can do this, and about all it will cost are time, and the cost of equipment.
The potential rewards are beyond measure.
My suggestion is your youthful understudy be an integral part of the entire process. Teach some basic knots, talk about the equipment you will be using, throw in some preliminary casting practice – any open space will work– and discuss ethical considerations.
Let your young understudy help in readying your bait or lures. This might involve going through a tackle box and talking about what you will be using, or you could collect bait together. Digging a can of red worms, seining for minnows, chasing crickets or grasshoppers, or collecting night crawlers can turn into a first-rate adventure when seen through the eyes of a kid.
When you go fishing, bring plenty of cold drinks or water along with snacks. Better still, prepare a field lunch at streamside, and if Lady Luck shines on the outing, that meal might include a mess of bream fillets. The idea is to make the experience and enjoyable, memorable one of the sort a youngster will be anxious to repeat and will cherish for years to come.
Fishing for bream is probably the best bet for a beginner. As long as the neophyte can manage to get his bait in the water where bluegills or other panfish are present, the odds of getting some action are excellent.
Given their pronounced tendency to overpopulate, bream are a fish which don’t enter into the “catch-and-release” philosophy. Youngsters like to show off their fish, or take pride in saying they provided the basis for a meal. In that regard, prolific and tasty bream are just the ticket.
The appeal of action being duly recognized, don’t place an undue emphasis on catching fish. If your young companion wants to chase tadpoles, throw rocks, help paddle the boat, bait the hook, or simply piddle, don’t stand in the way. The best way to deal with short attention spans is to avoid boredom like the plague. Keep the experience fun.
One wonderful sidelight of taking a kid fishing is that you are almost certain to have at least as much fun as your protege.
One of my enduring debts of gratitude to my parents and my paternal grandfather is they encouraged my stumbling, bumbling first attempts at fishing. When it came to fly fishing, Dad’s patience rivaled that of the Biblical Job.
Their quiet, unselfish guidance has stood me in good stead formy adult years. Every time I take to the water, I pause and reflect on words of wisdom from one of the sports great names, Izaak Walton. He described fishing as being “so pleasant that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself.”
Give a youngster a chance to reap that reward.