I’ve been saying it for years, and I mean it whole-heartedly, “Take a kid fishing!” The future of “fishing” depends on it. The values and principles that are instilled into the children of today are going to be the basis of the generations of anglers, guides, commercial fishermen, conservationists, marine biologists, scientists, ect. of tomorrow. The teachings and experiences of a child’s life when it comes to fishing can create a whole new world for many children, especially those who have never had the chance to go fishing. Whether from a boat, dock, pier, or shore, whether it be a river, creek, lake, pond, ocean, or bay, the fun of fishing not only is a great way to get the kids out of the house, but is also a great way to give children a better sense of respect for nature and the outdoors. This resource we have needs to be cared for and without the proper knowledge we will end up with future generations of men and women who may never get this amazing opportunity in which you and I have.
If there is one thing that I can emphasize more than anything is this, just go fishing. You don’t have to be pro, a captain, a guide, or spend tons of money. You don’t even have to own a fishing pole, in many places you can even rent one for a dollar or two. When we were younger and went to an unfamiliar place, I was able to borrow a cheap pole and a few hooks, and with a piece of hot dog or bacon, caught many a catfish, and other species just dropping a line in from shore. Now, going after the “big one” is always fun, but to most children, just a bent rod with a fish on the other end is super exciting! I love seeing the little kids fishing competitions from local piers and docks that are held all over the country, because its not about who wins, but about getting kids out there and learning about fishing. Too much emphasis these days, especially in the media aspect, is about product sales, “to be a better fisherman you need this lure” or “this clothing” or “this reel”, lets take a step back and all remember what it felt like to catch your first fish, hopefully it was a great experience, I know MINE was. It wasn’t about what kind of “gear” that was used, it was about the fun.
The old ideal of “my dad used to take me fishing” is not necessarily the case anymore these days. In this world of gender equality many women are taking fishing to a whole new level. I’m all for it too! More often than not I see many moms taking children fishing just as much as dads do. With as many women that are in the sport these days they are showing young girls that fishing is just as much of a women’s activity as a man’s. I applaud the work that women have done in the sport to help further the future for all of us. Also not being a parent should’t deter you from taking a child fishing either. Volunteering your time to taking kids fishing will show them another one of life’s values as well, generosity. Clubs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Big Buddy, just to name a few, are great programs that are an excellent platform to get children who may never have the opportunity to get to go fishing into the sport. Remember, we all need to do our part.
Another part of fishing that is great for children is the education. Learning patience, identification, knowledge, and skills are all gained by fishing. Just the technique of casting helps build hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Practicing casting even with a rubber ball on the end of the line helps children to understand the do’s and don’ts of casting, without hooking you in the process. Remember, no one was a great caster from the start, so help a child further the ability by positive reinforcement, try to show them the best way to make a cast both accurately and “safely”.
The art of tying knots is also a great motor skill that all people will use later in their life. I can’t tell you how many stories people have told me about the “one that got away” only to find out that the knot they tied came undone. Some of the strongest knots out there are very simple to tie, given that they are taught the right way. In this, the information age, any knot you want to learn is just a click away, but even if you have no experience tying different knots, no problem, there are hundreds out there that almost all offer the same function. My advice is use which ever ones are most comfortable for you to tie. From the beginning children should be taught easy knots such as the clinch or the improved version, as not to confuse them too early. Then the progression of knot tying can happen, but as said before, find what is most comfortable. I have tied so many knots over the years that some of them I have forgot because I use the ones that suit me best, and yes, all my knots hold.
The most important part of taking a child fishing is the knowledge and respect for the environment. Learning to take care of this incredible resource we have will only add to its future value and help maintain its beauty. Show children the practice of catch and release, so that some day, they or someone else might have the fun and joy of getting to catch that same fish. Explain to them the reasons we need to protect the fish and to only take what you can use, so that there will be fish for the future. Teach them to pick up their trash and even other trash laying around and near the water as it is unhealthy for the environment. If we want the future of generations to come to be able to enjoy this fun and exciting sport in which we love, we had better start instilling the right principles and values in the children of today so that they will grow to better understand how precious it truly is. – Captain Jay