When you get to the water, scout out a good place to start fishing. You want to look for a place where there are few obstacles (trees, branches, bushes, benches, people, etc.). There should be a good place for the kids to stand and cast and put down their rod if need be. With your polarized glasses on, you may even be able to see fish swimming near the bank.
Once you've found your spot, bait your rods. For this example, we'll be talking about “Night Crawlers.” Since pan fish have very small mouths, you don't want to use a whole worm on a hook. With your scissors, cut about a 1/4" piece of worm, and put the remainder back in the container. Put the hook point through the end of the worm and repeat this until the worm piece is "threaded" on the hook.
Adjust the length of line under your bobber if necessary, and cast the worm into the water. Keep your eye on the bobber -- it’s just a matter of time now before the memories begin!
OK, so now you've caught your first fish. What do you do now?
Let's assume you caught a sunfish, bluegill, bream or perch. Taking the fish off the hook is easy as long as you’re careful. But first, don't forget about a picture!
When you’re ready to remove the hook from the fish's mouth, grab the line about 10 inches to 14 inches above the fish with one hand, and lay the fish in the palm of your other hand. With the thumb and either index finger or middle finger (depending on the size of the fish) of your other hand carefully fold (toward the tail of the fish) down the dorsal fin. These dorsal fins have spines on them and can really hurt if they stick you. (See picture).
Do NOT use a towel to hold the fish. I see people doing this, and what that does is remove the protective slime coat from the fish. The slime coat protects the fish from many things, and when you remove it by handling the fish improperly, you can expose it to some potential danger. Don't squeeze the fish too hard, either!
Now you can gently and easily back the hook out of the fish's mouth. (This is where crushing the barb on the hook pays off!) If the fish swallows the hook, DO NOT TRY TO PULL IT OUT. Simply cut the line about 1/2" above the fish's mouth, so a little piece of fishing line is hanging out of its mouth and LEAVE THE HOOK IN. If you try to remove a hook from a fish that is "gut hooked," you will most certainly kill that fish. If you leave the hook in, it will rust away in a matter of days and chances of that fish surviving are much greater.
Let the kids touch the fish if they want to before you place it back in the water. Try not to have the fish out of the water for too long (more than 30 seconds) if possible. They simply can't breathe.
Now just tie on another hook, adjust your bobber, bait another piece of worm and you're back in business.
Life is about making memories. Make some while fishing!
Written by Keith Wilson
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