Fishing & Boating News
(Monday, July 13,1998 - Disney, OK.) When you take a kid fishing, be prepared for one thing: communication. It's a great opportunity to listen and communicate with your youngster, and it will be an experience you'll both treasure for a lifetime. It's a chance to talk about nature, his or her school, their friends, things they like or dislike . . . you've got the idea . . . plus its building a foundation that will keep that youngster focused on this great American sport for many years to come. Make it the most pleasurable outing you can imagine for the youngster.
Don't try to prove to them that you are a great angler, who catches big fish all the time. Emphasize that fishing is purely fun, catching is a bonus! And it doesn't matter that the fish may be small ones. All the kid really wants is to catch something! This is the best time to begin instilling good conservation habits in your budding new angler by teaching them about "catch and release" and returning the fish carefully to the water. Or, if the fish are to be kept, keep just enough for dinner.
Plan your trip to some place that's easily accessible and that is sure to produce some catching . . . a city park pond stocked with trout or panfish, a fishing pier, or even a pay-per-catch pond or lake that‚s heavily stocked. If you‚re totally in doubt as to where to go fishing, call your local state game and fish department offices. Explain to them your desire to introduce your youngster to the sport of fishing. They should be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
"My first fish was caught off an ocean pier, at age 4," says Gordon Holland, co-founder of the Hooked on Fishing International. "I don't remember too many details about the trip now, but it was a great experience and I've been hooked ever since."
When you plan that first trip for a youngster, it's very important to make it a short, but exciting adventure. A child's span of attention can be fleeting, so make it only a two or three hour outing . . . long enough to catch some fish, but not long enough for the child to become bored.. Usually a morning trip is preferable. The fish bite better and the kids have more fun. Try to pick a sunny day with moderate temperatures . . . and don't forget to take along some sunscreen!
Remember, catching is the key. Target your outing for the easiest-to-catch species . . . bluegill, crappie, planted trout, etc. Don't expect that youngster to enjoy sitting there trying to catch a bass on a plastic worm. A bunch of worms or nightcrawlers, or the numerous prepared trout floating baits are the answer to productive fishing for the smaller species. Most any fish will hit these live baits, and there‚s nothing more exciting to a child than having something tug on his or her fishing line, and feel that vibration of the fishing rod, or to just see the bobber disappear underwater from the efforts of a feisty sunfish. Herein lies the magic of your child‚s first fishing experience!
Speaking of memories . . . don't forget your camera. The pictures you will take on this day will likely become priceless mementos. If at all possible, try to get a couple of shots of the two of you together.
And, when next season comes around, be sure to sign up that youngster in one of the more than 1,100 Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and Tracker Marine Kids All-American Fishing Derby events sponsored nationwide, in all 50 states, by Hooked on Fishing International, and staged by local clubs and organizations, state and federal agencies or parks and recreation departments.
In our next installment, Part 2, The Journey, will feature information on tackle, bait, bobbers, snacks, etc., surely designed to make it an enjoyable outing for the youngster. You're building a foundation for your future fishing partner. Do it right!
For more information on the Kids Derby programs, or to become a host of an event in 1999, contact Hooked on Fishing International, P.O. Box 249, Disney, OK 74340. The program is offered free throughout the country and is sponsored by some of the nation‚s finest companies including; American Rod & Gun, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Berkley Inc., Gator Grip, Roads To Adventure Magazine, Southwest Airlines, TNN Outdoors, Tracker Marine, and Zebco.
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