As I get older I really feel like there are no guarantees in this world. The markets, employment, housing bubbles and so on. I suppose the traffic in Southern California can always be relied on. It works like clockwork! However, so many other things are not going as planned. I think this is where the old adage comes in: “It doesn’t matter what happens to you, but how you react to it.
As the boys got older, we learned more and more about fishing. It was never part of my childhood, but I fell in love with fishing after learning how to cook fresh trout. While catch and release is a great way to fish, I’m more of a catch and fry type. It’s all about finding my place in the abundance of nature. I felt like my eyes were open to what so many had forgotten. Not many people know where their food comes from today, and unfortunately – especially in California – some don’t even know what the fish they eat looks like other than fillet on a plate.
At the same time, we’ve started learning a thing or two about what it takes to go fishing with kids. Well, some of you might have a fair idea. A lot of people I know who like to go fishing with their children have one – maybe two – children. I have four. So I have BIG lessons to share folks! In any case, these are five of the best things we’ve learned in recent years.
1. Bring a hat. A chic one.
- The sun is a brutal opponent. Even when it’s cloudy, that giant ball of flaming gas will send its punishment straight to your face.
- Sometimes even a good hat helps to mark the moment. It might not be the greatest thing, but a hat can be fun and help build positive memories. You can even stick your patches and replacement bobbers on it.
2. Take snacks
- Moron. You have children. You can’t forget about the snacks.
- When fishing, try not to bring smelly or oily snacks with you as fish can smell. Try to bring dry and heat-resistant snacks. Melted chocolate gets messy.
3. The weather doesn’t follow the rules
- Depending on where you are fishing, the weather can be sporadic. It is a good idea to be familiar with the local options.
- The weather can change your security needs. Make sure you bring water and possibly a warm piece of clothing. A long day in the sun can put a strain on the little ones, and what is cool to you can become uncomfortably cold for them.
- Know when to call it. You may just have to make the responsible decision to wrap it up. Extreme heat, lighting, or cold can create safety concerns.
4. Remember their age
- Different age groups react differently to fishing. The smaller they are, the less likely they are to have the attention span for long fits of … well … nothing. Try not to get frustrated if they don’t seem as alert as you’d like.
- Allow distraction. Sometimes it helps their perseverance throughout the experience to be distracted by things. When my sons fish in a large river, they like to throw blades of grass into the water so “ants can find them and hold out when they’re tired of swimming”. All right then.
- Children 4-6: This is a good time to discuss equipment and safety rules. Remember, hooks are sharp.
- Children 6–10: These boys will have more hands-on time at this age. So, talk about regulations and laws, cleaning, ethics, and moral lessons. How to handle a caught fish is a valuable lesson, and this is a great age to embed those ideas.
- Children from 10 years: At this age, children are more skillful and more coordinated. You also become more competitive. This is a great age to work on technique and styles and get an idea of what type of fishing they prefer. Bass, trout, pier fishing or maybe even deep sea sport fishing might be of interest.
5. Be patient
- Begin to understand that nothing could come your way.
- Remember, YOU are the “takeaway” ones. It’s not about you
- Have fun! At least you are with your children. They will remember you how you are in those moments. You can make the moment any way you want.
We recently had an opportunity to fish on the Eagle River in Colorado, which is where those lessons came into play in one way or another. As much as I loved the opportunity to catch fish in the cold river, it was more about creating little memories for the youngsters. Of course they had hats. We always have hats. And since Chelsea held the littlest boy in hand, the bigger ones gave a little time throwing rafts of grass into the water. We were lucky with excellent weather and a river parade of rafts and fly fishermen who caught a lot more than we did.
However, we took home a lot of memories.
To learn more about the fishing and boating opportunities out there for your family to enjoy, visit Take Me Fishing. Be sure to share the memories of your own family with us on social networks with #FirstCatch.