I learned many things about fishing from my Dad…some of which included what NOT to do. I can remember as a young lad going fishing with my him and my older brother at a fishing lease outside my home town. I’m sure my Dad wanted to maximize the time he had to wet his line, while hoping to teach my brother and I how to fish. Most of all, he wanted to relax.
I can remember my Dad sitting in a prime fishing location with me several feet away on his left, and my brother several feet away on his right. He would cast my pole and sit down to take up his position fishing. As if by cue, just as he would sit down, my brother would need him to free his line from a submerged log. He would get that situation under control, sit down to cast his line, and then I would need his assistance to untangle my line and recast. When he wasn’t blazing a trail between my brother and I, he was reminding us to be quiet so we wouldn’t scare the fish. His frustration would mount until he finally blew his top, packed us all up, and we headed home…no fish, no relaxation.
It was because of this experience I decided to do something much different with my own children. In the process, I learned taking kids fishing can be an enjoyable experience for both you and them, if you follow a few simple rules.
1. Buy a kid-friendly fishing pole. Buy a quality pole for your child that is durable, reasonably priced, and operates smoothly. I recommend the Zebco 33 for all the reasons listed above.
2. Practice casting and reeling at home. Teach your kids the basic fundamentals of casting and reeling in your own backyard with a large lead sinker (or nut) and no hook. To keep it even more interesting, fish the puddles in your yard after a rain. This will make the “game” of fishing fun. (While it is not likely they will be able to cast on their first real outing, they will have a good experience reeling the line in which will keep them interested even if the fish aren’t biting.)
3. Leave your pole at home. Don’t even put it in the truck. Only bring your child’s fishing pole and dedicate that time to teaching them the basics. Eventually, you will get them to the place where they can fish mostly on their own, other than the occasional tangled line they can’t unsnag by themselves. Once they are more adept, you can start bringing along your own fishing pole. Until then, avoid the aggravation.
4. Fish with a bobber and live bait. Try fishing for fish that are attracted to live bait and the “wait and see” method. (catfish are a good example of this). Children naturally want to constantly reel in their line. Fishing with a bobber gives you more breathing room and teaches them patience. Be sure to tell them to concentrate on the bobber and watch for any indication a fish is on their line.
5. See your fishing outings as time to disciple your children.
“And He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Christ used the metaphor of fishing to tell his disciples how they would reach the world. Your children will one day be reaching the world as well. The fishing you do now will prepare them for the bigger picture. While you fish, share your faith and your dreams for them with them.
Tell us about your fishing adventures with the kids – good and bad! We love to hear your stories!