Teaching children how to fish

Most children seem inherently drawn to fishing. It is a great activity to help children learn to appreciate the outdoors and it is fairly simple to get started.

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  • Nineteenth century American Author Washington Irving said, “There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind.”

  • That is one of many reasons fishing is a great activity for children as well as adults. Most children seem inherently fascinated by the chance to catch a fish. It gives them a chance to be outdoors near water, and it helps them forge a direct bond with nature.

  • Fortunately, introducing children to fishing is simple. Even for parents who might not be avid anglers.

  • The first consideration should be choosing the right water and the right type of fish. Ponds and lakes are generally preferable over rivers or streams because it is difficult to fish in moving water. For novice anglers, panfish like Bluegills are widely distributed and eager to bite. Depending on the location and time of year, fish like White Bass, Crappie, or planted Trout are also good options.

  • The real key is creating a situation where catching fish is almost a certainty. For young anglers, nothing is more exciting than actually catching a fish.

  • No matter their age, children will want to hold their own fishing pole and do their own casting. That means starting with simple equipment.

  • “Pick a rod and reel that is age-appropriate and compatible with your fishing goals. An inexpensive closed reel is suitable for younger kids. Optimally, bring more than one rod per child, even if the backups are pre-owned garage sale fare. This will help maintain fishing momentum when mishaps occur,” recommends www.ehow.com.

  • It is important to match the tackle to the type of fish one hopes to catch. Once, I was fishing on a community pond and catching many hand-sized Bluegills. Another man with two young children set up a few feet away. While my bait seldom sat for more than a minute before another fish would bite, they did not catch anything.

  • I could see the discouragement of the children, and I offered to help them. The man rigged their fishing pole with large bobbers and large hooks. He threaded a plastic worm on each hook. I showed him the Bluegill I was catching and noted that the mouths of the fish were much smaller than the hook he was using. The bobbers were also so large that if a fish bit, it would not be able to pull the bobber under water. Also, the large plastic worms he selected were not appropriate bait for Bluegills.

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  • I gave them some tackle and rigged their rods to match mine. I tied on some small hooks, added a small weight a few inches above the hook, then baited the hooks with a small piece of a real worm. Instead of using a bobber, I showed them how to watch for line movement as a sign that a fish was biting.

  • Just a few minutes later both children were catching fish and squealing with pleasure.

  • Here are some other tips to help ensure a successful outing with children.

  • Choose the proper line

  • In most cases, that means a light line. When going after fish that weigh one or two pounds, there is no reason to use heavy line with a 30-pound breaking strength. Heavy line can actually scare fish away, and it makes it more difficult to detect strikes.

  • Optimize the chance for catching fish

  • Talk to other local anglers and check online fishing reports. Choose a location where recent outings have been productive. Ask for advice at bait shops.

  • Use the right bait

  • With children, that usually means natural baits like worms, grubs or minnows. Artificial lures can be very effective under the right conditions, but their successful use often requires more skill and finesse than most children possess.

  • Remember the ultimate goal is having fun

  • If you haven’t caught any fish after an hour, chances are the children will get restless. Call it a day and go do something else. Or, take a break and do something else for a while. Turn over some rocks and try to catch a Crayfish.

  • Obey the regulations

  • Laws and rules for fishing vary. Sometimes, within the same state. Be certain you know the legal requirements for the body of water where you plan to fish. Nothing spoils a fun outing more than a hefty fine.

  • The most important thing is: Just do it. Don’t be dissuaded. Fishing is a sport where no matter what happens, everyone who participates is a winner.

  • Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover said this about fishing: “To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men — for all men are equal before fish.”

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Flint Stephens has a master's degree in communication. He is an author and writes a parenting blog.

Website: http://www.utahvalleydad.com

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