Column: Keep it simple when exposing children to the joy of fishing



In my profession as a fishing guide, I get to experience some wonderful outings with many grandfathers, fathers, mothers with grandchildren and children of their own.

I have learned over the years this is a profound experience and the memories that are created are amazing. Tending to children on the water requires much more patience and tolerance than with normal adults.

Here are some tips to make the child experience on the water successful.

Variety is good

As many anglers know, walleyes are the big target but because of their tendency to be very moody, walleyes sometimes are tough to pattern and children just don’t have the ability to focus that intently on walleye fishing.

I usually start a typical morning chasing walleyes but tend to move to other species if things are not happening. Northern pike are a great backup.

Crappies and largemouth bass have saved my bacon many times and I have learned to change tactics according to the action at hand.

Keep trips short

Always keep those on-the-water trips short. Too many times you can wear a child out and the sun can take its toll.

Kids don’t have the tolerance for the elements like adults and they wear out sooner. Keeping the trips to around four hours gives them a good experience without stressing their young bodies.

Too much time on the water can work in reverse and turn a kid off to the sport.

Offer praise

Keep in mind a small fish or an undesirable species may seem awful to you as the adult but to a kid it’s a prize.

Even if they hoist a carp into the boat, praise that catch. It’s not about the trophy potential but the catch itself.

When I see a child haul in a northern pike, instead of voicing my disappointment, I praise the catch.

Spending time on the water with a child is huge. These kids are our future and it’s our job to introduce them to the sport of fishing and make it fun not combative.

Steve Carney is an ECM outdoors columnist