I love to take my wife, Chris, fishing. I really do, even though she out-fishes me most of the time. She’s won just about everything there was to win in Bass’n Gal competition, 10x Angler of the Year and a whole mess of tournaments and classics. And she won respect of the fishing industry when she was inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame.
But more fun to take fishing is my granddaughter, Jordyn. What a trip! Jordyn is a teenager now and all involved in FFA and stuff, but she still loves to go fishing with her granddad. I love it!
So what did I do to get her to be so in love with going fishing with me? I always let her catch fish when we went. Every time. I made sure she caught fish -- a lot of fish -- and I hoped that she would catch at least one largemouth bass that was braggin’ size. And she did. We had a lot of fun. I will never forget those times, and I don’t think she will, either.
What did I do to make the trips fun? I always had her fishing tackle that was made for a kid and was her personal tackle, like a spincast rod and reel to fish with. These are easy to handle, cannot be backlashed and will cast a small Road Runner jighead a long way with accuracy, plus be able to handle a nice size bass or crappie.
I always put lures on her line that she could catch fish with -- and without any problem. I rigged her rod with 1/4-oz. or 1/8-oz. Road Runners in colors that were known fish-catchin’ colors: chartreuse, white, red and white, sometimes black and yellow, plus crawdad colors. I never went below 1/8-oz. because then they would be hard to cast a logical distance, and she would have to wait too long for the Road Runner to sink down to where the fish are.
I would mash the barbs down on the hooks so if she got hooked, the lure could be removed pretty much painlessly. With a barb, there would have been pain and suffering!
We never went on rainy, cold or windy days. I took her on the primrose days of the week in a season when the fish were usually biting -- springtime or mid-fall.
I would buy some red worms or night crawlers just in case the fish were not hitting artificial baits. With her line in hand, I would rig out a bobber and a sliding sinker and put her in the water near a shady willow tree. (Bluegills and sunfish congregate under willow trees in the spring through the fall). Drop a hook with a wiggler on it, and bingo! Fish on!
Also, I used gold Aberdeen fishing hooks so when she got hung up, the hook would bend out easily and could be rebent back to its original shape. (Smart thinkin’, huh?)
I was always amused at how she would stare at the fish in the livewell when I opened the lid for her to put another fish in. Like she was counting them to make sure they were all there since the last deposit.
I always had cold drinks plus some snacks aboard to thwart any thirst or hunger pangs that might arise. And they did. Be careful about stocking too much food and snacks; the fishing will be abandoned and the food becomes the object of their affection. My son, Jamie, was like that.
My daughter, Sherri, the mother of two of my grandchildren, was all about fishing. And she didn’t want to fish for bluegills. She wanted to fish for largemouth bass. And that she did until when she was a young adult. She became one of the better Zara Spook fisherpersons on the Bass’n Gal tour.
The point being … if the kiddos catch fish, they develop an appreciation for the sport of fishing and competitive fishing, as well. This, in turn, gives them an appreciation for the great outdoors and related programs such as Catch and Release. No matter what the sport, sports are good for children of all ages. (And for old men, like me!)
Some Fishing Tips:
- Make sure kids are wearing their life vests at all times.
- Spend your personal time helping them fish. Teach them how to cast. How to tie a fishing knot. How to unhook a fish. Lure selection. How to work each lure. And how to set the hook.
- These items will make them a complete fishing person. Don’t do all the work for them! Let them learn as they go so when they get home, they can hold up their catch and say to their mother, “Look what I caught, Mommy! All by myself.”
This is important. I have a buddy who is quite the artist went to private art school when he was 11 years old. He was so excited about this adventure, but when class started, the instructor did all the painting for him. All he got to do was mix the paint and clean brushes. Ya gotta do more than mix the colors … ya gotta know what to do with the colors! The same goes for those fishing trips and equipment.
- Get them their own tackle box. Oh my gosh! You don’t know how big a deal this is to the kids. They will dig around in the tackle box and rearrange and so forth over and over. Watching them become excited about the sport will be something that is hard to forget. These moments are what makes for unforgettable memories. And every time Dad goes to Bass Pro Shops, guess who wants to go with him?
- Take pictures. A little digital camera, about a $50 one, will give vivid, tangible memories that cannot be forgotten. And they will return the favors by taking pictures all during the trip. (It’s surprising how little kids are so fascinated with turtles and ducks!)
- Start the day right by having the kids get up really early. Take them to breakfast for biscuits and gravy, just like any other fishing buddy. Let them pay the tip, too! Then on the way home, stop for ice cream. Wow! Of this, heroes are made in a day. I guarantee it.
Fishing with a kid … better than chocolate ice cream.