Take A Child Fishing
By Eugene Kruger
picture by Sue Babich
Research undertaken in America has shown that if a child is introduced
to fishing before 13 years of age, the chances are very good that that
child will continue with recreational fishing in adult life. As that
tired old adage has it: "our children are the anglers of tomorrow
(or citizens, tax payers, tennis players, whatever).
Too true, but I know of instances where a child has been forced to
go fishing and the accompanying adults, while well intentioned,
caused such trauma that those children will never go fishing again.
I dont know if anyone has even tried to determine how old a child
should be before they are taken on a fishing outing. As soon as possible
and practical, I would say.
I was very fortunate that the adults who took me fishing for the first
time, I think I was 4 years old, were seemingly also experts on child
raising. I cannot remember one bad incident and well remember the impatience
for the weekend to come so that I could go fishing again.
And I suppose I am one case that proves the American finding: at over
55 years I am still fishing!
Here are some pointers when taking your children fishing.
- Make it a Fun Thing. Dont burden the child with techniques
and complicated tackle and dont be concerned about catching
a big fish. To a child, catching a small fish on simple tackle can
be a major achievement, and besides, hooking into a really big specimen
might be quite frightening.
- Keep it Straightforward and Easy. Try not to make the fishing
trip a big production. Children can only take in so much information
at a time, and if you make it all complicated you will only cause
frustration. You dont need the latest range of hi-tec tackle,
you dont need a fancy boat. Fishing from the bank will do just
as well. Bear in mind that your child just wants to spend some enjoyable
time with you.
- The tackle Must work. While it is not necessary to use hi-tec
tackle, do make sure that the tackle can indeed do the job at hand.
Using a reel that breaks is very off-putting.
- Its an Adventure. Planning a fishing trip, even a one-day
one, is great fun and creates a sense of adventure. Going fishing
needs some planning. Involve them when you check the weather forecast.
Take your child with you when you buy tackle. When the fish just refuse
to bite, take your child exploring the bank and surrounds, or dig
for worms, make a lunchtime braai.
- Keep the Concentration. Its a fact that children have
a short attention span and soon lose concentration. Choose a fishing
spot with easy access to toilet facilities and playground. Take along
enough snacks and for small kids, even some toys. And dont make
the mistake of forcing your child to keep fishing for hours on end.
In many instances a child will be happy to fish for as little as half
an hour and then go playing along the bank or in the shallows.
- Handling the Catch. When your child does catch a fish, dont
force him or her to handle it. Take it off the hook yourself, but
make sure your child sees how you do it. Remember that imitation is
very often the best teacher.
- catch rate. Its far better to have some small success
quickly than having to wait interminably for a big success. Its
therefore important to choose a spot that can produce fish quickly,
even if they are small. Children dont really care about size
but they do want to catch something.
- SAFETY. No matter where you are fishing, from a boat or from
the bank, on a big dam or a small farm pond, water needs to be respected.
Teach your child to act safely around water and use the fishing trips
to practice what to do should they get into trouble in water.
- Like the Outdoors. Children react positively to anything
that develops and engenders a love of the outdoors. While you are
fishing, point out the scenery, the birds, the water itself, and chat
about easy ways of keeping the outdoors clean and beautiful. Show
your child how to properly dispose of used fishing line and other
- To release or Not? Dont belabour the ethics of catch
and release. Its far better to let the child make the decision
on its own and theres nothing wrong in allowing the child to
take a fish or two home to show off to the family or friends. After
all, the child has achieved success! But also teach the child how
to handle a fish properly if it is to be released. Whatever the child
decides, give a lot of praise for a new skill that has been learnt.
- Memories. You wont know if your child will become an
adult angler or not, but for the present capture the outings and successes
on film so that they, and you too, have something to share with friends
and family. And of course for them to show their kids much later on.
So always have a camera on hand.
- Give Your Best. Going fishing is a perfect opportunity to
show your children how to be a caring, responsible adult. Children
love to imitate an adult that they love and look up to. So take care
to be a good role model and make a good impression. Investing time
and money in being with your children in the outdoors and going fishing
can pay huge dividends as they grow older.ends
|Fishingowl says "Well read, Well said and hear hear!!"