Probably the most likable aspect of fishing with children is that they put the sport into a simple perspective. No complicated structure fishing. No talk about thermocline, water temperature, hatch-matching, and pseudo-scientific technical talk. Oh, they may like to catch more, or bigger, fish than their friend, sibling, or accompanying adult. But mostly kids like to have fun.
If a child enjoys fishing at a young age, it is much more likely that he or she will be an angler later in life. Surveys have shown that most adult anglers were introduced to fishing as children. Parents and other family members are the individuals credited with most such introductions. Very few youngsters begin on their own.
You don’t have to be an avid angler to introduce a child to fishing. The only times my father ever fished were the few occasions when he took me. The important point is that we went.
Anyone Can Do It
Gender has nothing to do with fishing enthusiasm or abilities either.
Girls have the same aptitude as boys for fishing. What keeps a lot of girls from the sport is the misconception that it’s a male thing. For instance, if parents think that fishing and baseball are boys’ activities and that girls should just be playing tennis or learning gymnastics, a girl is not likely to become an angler. Or, if Dad fishes but Mom not only doesn’t but can’t stand to have fish in the kitchen, chances are this attitude will rub off on the daughter.
However, these are learned prejudices. In reality, there are few barriers to fishing. Age, sex, race, nationality, and creed make no difference. Physical condition is only an issue with respect to severe disabilities.
It doesn’t matter which relative makes the introduction either. Tradition has it that fathers take their children fishing. That’s mostly what still happens. But today there are more women fishing than ever. That means more families are fishing, but I’ve also met single mothers who take, or would like to take, their children fishing. Usually these women have had some experience in outdoor activities and recognize its value to children.
It’s About Action
Ideally, children should be exposed to successful fishing the first time they participate. There are many adults who do not fish but who report that they tried it once (usually as a kid), and were bored by waiting long hours for the bobber to bob. Nothing happened. Dull, they say. How can you stand to sit out there waiting for something to happen, they ask?
Well, I can’t. I don’t. But I know why they didn’t like their experience.
If you play tennis, chances are you’d quit if you could never hit the ball over the net. Same with golf, or anything else. Who likes failure? Why should fishing be different?
Most adult anglers would quit fishing altogether if they continually failed to catch fish. No matter what purists may believe, the foremost reason for fishing is to catch fish. And it’s a rare angler who doesn’t get excited over a fabulous day of catching fish after fish.
You know the best way to introduce an adult to fishing? Go to a place where you can’t miss and where there’s lots of action. By the end of the day he or she will be thinking, this sport isn’t so bad after all, and will likely want to have his or her own equipment. This works for moderately experienced anglers, too, particularly those who are trying a new type of fishing.
If adults like action and success, why should youngsters be any different? They’re not. They are more fidgety, generally less patient, and always more eager. So the first requirement for a successful fishing trip for kids is lots of activity, or, as an acquaintance of mine calls it, “something jerking on your string all the time.”