The Lure of Fishing

By Carol Band


Introducing Your Grandchildren to Fishing … and the Idea That It’s Not Just About What You Catch


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Midsummer, when it seems your grandchildren have already had their fill of all the usual summer activities, is a great time to introduce them to the fun of fishing. Just sitting by a stream, lake or pond, with pole in hand, presents the chance to daydream, share stories and maybe even catch a fish or two.

In fact, with the overscheduled, fast-paced world today’s children live in, perhaps one of the best things a grandparent can teach them is to slow down and relax. And, there’s no doubt, fishing can be a great way to do that.

“The main thing to remember is you don’t have to be an expert to teach a child how to fish,” says National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer Ron Weber.

Parents and grandparents need to focus on the fun of fishing, rather than the techniques, if they want to hook a fishing companion for a lifetime, Weber explains. He bases his advice on a lifetime of fishing pleasure, which has included teaching his three daughters, his son and his 4-year-old grandson how to fish.

Here are some more tips on introducing your child to the fascinating world of fishing:

Don’t get hung up on technique. Try to make your trips to your local lake or stream as fun as possible. If you get too technical too fast, you’ll turn the child off.

Don’t worry about catching a zillion fish or catching a trophy fish. To a young child, catching a two-inch “sunny” can be a major achievement. Sometimes, catching a larger fish can be quite scary to a child.

Keep the equipment simple. Tom Sawyer caught fish with a stick and string and your grandchildren can, too. There are inexpensive poles and reels for children. (Fisher-Price makes a fairly sturdy model that works well for young kids.) Practice casting without a hook, then work closely with your grandchild until you are confident that he or she can handle the pole properly.

You can buy bait or lures at any fishing supply or sporting goods store, but it’s really hard to beat good ol’ earthworms on a hook. Fish just can’t resist them and you will attain elevated status in the eyes of your child when you deftly bait the hook.

• Make an adventure out of going fishing.
Explore the lake or stream and the areas near it. Or, when you’re out in the boat, pretend that you and your first mate are on a marvelous adventure in search of Moby Harry, king fish in the lake.

• Scout out a lake or stream in advance of taking grandchildren fishing there.
Look for spots and holes that have an abundance of fish. Kids like to catch fish, even if they’re little ones.

• Don’t worry about catch and release; make it your child’s decision.
Give your child the opportunity to show off his or her catch to Mom or Grandma. And make sure to praise your child for his or her efforts and success.

• Schedule your fishing trips around you child’s attention span.
Don’t plan on taking your child fishing for an entire day. Sometimes a child will be happy with 15 minutes of fishing and an hour of running around and playing with Grandpa and Grandma.

• Make sure your grandchild is well-rested.
A tired, cranky child can quickly ruin the most well-conceived plans.

• It’s never too early to show young ones how to respect the environment
, to appreciate nature, and to act as a responsible sportsperson.

• Show your grandchild how to act safely around the water
, whether you’re fishing from a boat, from shore or from a dock or pier.

Finding a Good Fishing Hole

If you’re an avid angler you probably have a favorite place where the fish always bite, but beginners may want to try check out your state's Department of Wildlife (sometimes called Fisheries and Wildlife) Web site.  

Read more about fly fishing