Start them young
Unlike most kids, I hardly had any support from my Dad when it came to fishing. At one point I was the one who forced him to take me fishing in the piers. This was not by his choice as hunting small game was more his thing then, and to be fair with him, he had me tag along and it was fun and for a kid, it was very interesting and a great introduction to the outdoors. Hunting was just not for me. I loved going out with Dad and his friends, but it was too messy for me. The long hikes with heavy gear to a good spot were not interesting – however, the part that really got me was to sit still and not talk for extended periods of time. If you know me, then you would know that it would be easier to stop floodwater than to keep me quiet.
Well before his hunting days, Dad was a noted angler in his hometown, after hearing this from my aunts, uncle and my paternal grandmother, it added to the frustration of not being taken fishing, especially when the interest was there. It was only when I was in my early teens when my Dad took me on our first fishing trip. This was shortly after his brother came into town and gave me my first rod and reel. When we got around to go fishing and when it started, it kept going. Since he gave up hunting, fishing has been his favorite pastime and till this day, fishing is the bonding medium between my Dad and I.
I have been fortunate to teach kids how to handle a rod and reel before it was my turn to teach my own how to hold one. A few years ago, friend and I started a small program back home to teach people how to fish with a rod and reel, the turnout was good and we divided the groups into adults and children, I handled teaching the kids, while he handled the teaching the adults. When the time came for both parent and child to fish together, it gave me a kick. From that time on, I have been looking forward to the chance to teach my own kid how to fish. A few years later, I have my own family and since she was born, I have been looking forward to the day I take her out fishing for the first time.
I had to get some things in order for the little one, after 4 years and a few months of observing her, I had to look for a place where it would be easy for me to keep an eye on her and also make it more interesting for her, which means a place where she could see boats, birds, some space for her to run around safely and some fish to catch. I found a place with a big bonus, a clean beach and a playground, just in case she got bored, 4 year olds are not the easiest to teach, especially those that have very short attention spans.
Creating a Life Long Fishing Buddy
Fishing, as with a lot of things in life, is all about preferences – that being said, it is the single most reason for an argument between you and another angler. Anglers tend to not see 100% eye to eye because we each have our own formula for success – What works for us, doesn’t mean it works better than other people’s methods. Kids don’t have their preference set yet, and are the perfect mediums to work with the bonus – your preference will be their starting point until they discover their own preferences and they will evolve from there.
Either you are a hardcore fisherman or a weekend warrior – one thing is certain, you have to take it easy on kids. They might love fishing, or they might hate it down the line. What you are in control of is the experience that would lead them to the right path. Starting them with bait instead of lures will make it easier for them to understand things, A rod tip twitching is less appealing than a bobber or float going underwater – it gives the kids a very visual experience and an image of something big taking the bait. Although my little girl knows what the concept of fishing with lures is, I started with bait just so she would know that fish eat pieces of shrimp, marine worms and crabs. She isn’t afraid to touch them too! She loved her first time out and is already looking forward to the next fishing trip.
Kaylee has her own rod and reel – she even named the rod and reel. This is one of the factors that made her look forward to fishing. Since she plays around with the rod and reel at home, she is familiar with the functions and teaching her on the field was not a challenge. I took the time to show her which part was and what they do so she is familiar with them. Now that she has expressed her liking for fishing, I will get her a tackle box loaded with some useful tools. I will give her a few of my floats and sinkers. Keep the hooks in your box and away from their hands, but do show them how to tie knots and explain what the function is for each piece of tackle. I took my time and showed her how to rig a sliding sinker rig, explaining what a sinker, swivel and leader is.
Kids are able to absorb a lot of information and are natural knowledge sponges, so always explain as much as you can to them but don’t assume that they would be able to learn everything fast, repetition is the key.
From Day 1, I taught her probably the most important lesson of all. After taking a quick picture, I had her release the fish. I also told her that I release a lot of my fish so that she will have a few to catch when she gets older. This is very important, as we are responsible for their generation’s fish stocks. She was happy to see the fish swim away – and she even said that they would see each other again soon.