Monday, August 5, 2013

Teaching Your Kids to Fish

In a world of Xboxes, Playstations, and Ipads sometimes we forget to get our kids outside and engaged in the natural world.  Going for bike rides or playing on a playground are great ways for kids to exercise, but there's nothing nearly as special as the moments spent watching a bobber.  They are quiet moments mixed in with the chaos of falling in the water or untangling bird's nests of 6 lb monofilament, but the two or three stolen moments of that melodic laugh or or saucer eyed surprise makes the effort worthwhile.  Here's some tips to get started.

1.  Laugh and smile.  Make no mistake, fishing with kids is a monumental test of patience.  There's always going to be hooks caught in trees, line tangles, worms falling off, cries of "I'm borrrrrred" between action, and always weeds that need to be taken off the hook.  Be patient.  Smile and make it fun.  It's not going to go perfect and that is just fine.

2. Keep the kids engaged.  Make it a contest of who can catch the most or the biggest or the prettiest fish. When you do catch a fish, identify it.  Point out the bright yellow belly of a sunfish or why its called a Largemouth Bass.  Make it so the kids know what they are catching so they can learn and feel engaged.

3. K.I.S.S. Theory = Keep it Simple, Stupid.  Bobbers and Worms.  Thats all you need to catch fish.  Bobber goes down, fish on.  It's Pavlovian.  You don't need anything special for gear and tackle.  Buy a $30 Zebco 33 fishing kit sold anywhere from WalMart to Cabelas.  It will have everything you need to get started and the rod and reel are nuclear bomb proof.  Themed combos like SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer make it extra fun for the littlest of kids.

4. Brag.  Who doesn't love to tell fish stories?  Have the kids share the story with anyone you come across on your way back to the car or in the grocery store or gas station.  Have the kids call Grandma on the way back home and tell her. Help the kids send pictures to their Uncle.  Make it an accomplishment the kids share so they are proud of themselves.

5. Bug Spray and Snacks.  Enough Said.

6. Catch fish. This is kind of redundant, but really, its the cure all when it comes to fishing with kids.  Farm ponds, park ponds, local lakes; it doesn't matter where you go.  Target a nice shoreline with some weeds and hope there's tons of bluegills.  Its not all about catching, but it sure helps to keep the kids focused and happy if you are.

7.  Talk to your kids.  Its easy to forget that in these moments, you get the opportunity for them not to be distracted by high resolution graphics or commercials.  You have all of their attention.  Talk about the clouds or trees or what they want to be when they grow up. Catch butterflies and frogs. The world slows down when a bobber goes in the water.  Take a moment to enjoy it.  

Get outside and take your kids fishing.  If you need some instruction or not sure where to go, call up your local bait shop or sporting goods store.  They'll be happy to help you get started and will likely have entire weekends of seminars or special youth promotions.  They'll give you great ideas on local lakes or ponds to try. They are the friendliest and most helpful resource you'll find aside from another fisherman.

Here's a great instructional video by a fishing legend, Bill Dance, on the Zebco 33 reel: