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~ Fun Summer Ideas For You And Your Family ~

How To Take Your Kid Fishing, When You Don’t Fish

Don’t rule out taking your kid fishing this summer simply because you never took up the pastime. Fishing can be easy and enjoyable if you stick to the basics and make fun as your goal. A couple of generations ago fishing was a primary pastime for small town and country kids. They thought nothing of grabbing (or even cutting) a cane pole, rigging it with their Dad’s fishing line or household string; using their nickels to buy small hooks, sinkers and a bobber; digging up worms or catching crickets for bait. All in preparation for heading to the fishing hole a buddy or grandfather told them was a good place.

If you stick to the way a country kid used to do it, maybe adding a modern convenience or two, fishing can be a fun and rewarding time that you spend with your child this summer. The best advice for getting started is to turn off the bass fishing channel, stay out of high-end fly-fishing and outdoor stores, and realize that you don’t have to be a “real fisherman” to have fun fishing. In other words, keep it simple like those country kids from long ago.

A way to keep it simple is to think of fishing as place, species, equipment, bait and techniques. Keep all these pieces simple and you will introduce your child to fishing in a way that is fun and in a way that just might ignite a passion that is positive for your soon-to-be adolescent. Let’s take each of these pieces in turn and make them simple.

You don’t have to find a top-notch fishing destination, rent a boat or learn to read a topographical map of a lake bottom to find a place to take your kid fishing. Instead, think about where you plan to spend time with them this summer. Are you planning to go on picnics in local parks? Check your local recreation department to find a park whose lake is known for urban fishing and that has good access for kids. Chances are you can find a park with this type of small lake with only a short drive – one you would have made anyway to enjoy a picnic.

You might also check out pay-for-fishing ponds that are suitable for children and are in easy driving distance. This is where species of fish become important. Don’t take your child to a pay-for-fishing pond that is stocked with catfish as the primary quarry or that has steep, brushy banks that are unsafe for children to walk around.

Instead, make the species you go after the bluegill (or other types of sunfish that might be more prevalent in your area). I recommend the bluegill because you can find them anywhere, they are good bait biters, will put up a fight that is fun but because of their size, something your kid can handle, and the equipment and bait to catch them can be very simple. (Plus – if you are so inclined – if you do catch a bunch of bluegill, they are not hard to clean and they fry up good for eating.)

Equipment is easy. A cane pole that you can buy in any mass retailer that has a sporting goods section will do. Get light line, small hooks and sinkers, and a few bobbers and you are ready. The salesperson in that section of the store can show you how to tie on the line to the cane pole. Remember that a cane pole will require that you have good and safe access to the water from the bank. If you think you might need to cast the line out a bit from a pier or bank that is a little high, get a low-priced spin-casting outfit. These are the closed-end reels that are push-button operated for release of the line.

Also, be aware that a spin-casting reel is different than a spinning reel. Spinning reels are open-faced and are more difficult for small children to learn on their first try. I caution this because there are rod and reel choices that might look good for a child, but will be too difficult when they are first starting out. An example is the mini fishing rod. These are fantastic in terms of being compact; they can fit right in your picnic bag, and are light and easy for a child to hold. However, these usually come with an open-faced spinning reel that will make those other advantages moot when your child becomes easily frustrated trying to use it.

For bait, stick with crickets or earthworms, both of which can be bought at any local bait shop. If these give you the creeps, then look for simple, small spinning lures to use with your spin-casting rod and reel.

As far as techniques go, the cane pole is simplest. Just use the pole to swing your line back and out into the water. No overhead cast is needed or desired, just a swing of the pole, keeping the line under the rod tip the whole time. One or two times are all that is usually necessary to start getting the hang of it.

If you are using a spin-casting rod and reel, you simply reel the line to almost the tip of the pole, leave a little bit dangling, about half-a-foot. Then, push the button, raise the pole to a one-o’clock position over your head, and then cast the rod forward while releasing the button. It might take you a bit longer to get the rhythm down, but it won’t take long.

And most important, don’t turn your kid’s fishing time into a “coaching session” for your kid; let them get as good as they will at this. The main thing is fun and just spending time with them.

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