My Dad taught me to fish and I don’t remember it being a complicated process. I always thought that I just picked up a rod and Dad was there to teach me how and what to use to catch them. I remember trolling for hours at Dauphin Lake in Manitoba and catching lots of big walleye. We went on father and son fishing trips to Wellman Lake in Manitoba and I remember we always caught lots of fish. It was so much fun. But now that my kids are the age that I can finally teach them all the things that I knew about the great sport of fishing, I realized what my father must have gone through.
Teaching children to fish is like herding a bunch of cats. There are more things to worry about and as the number of children increase, so do the potential for disasters. I have learnt some things about teaching children to fish and I feel that I must share at least some of them.
When fishing with children, don’t plan on fishing yourself. There are just way to many things to do with little people who don’t know how to change a hook, tie on a leader, or even cast. Fishing with kids is like refereeing a hockey game. You are always looking for something to happen. A rod tip too high, casting across other lines, not paying attention to anything. All of these things make it impossible for a Dad to fish.
When fishing with children, be prepared to leave early. Attention spans in young children are about 15 ’20 minutes. With the proper diversionary tactics, it can be extended to about an hour. After that, its just a lot of the ‘I wanna go home’ chant.
When fishing with children, don’t expect them to catch a lot. I don’t know what it is, bad luck or just something that happens to kids, but I don’t think, that in all the times that I have fished with the kids, have any of them ever caught more than 1 fish. And this includes the fishing from the dock in 3 feet of water where you can see the perch. (For the answer to this question, see attention span point above).
When fishing with children, get the bathroom breaks out of the way when you arrive. Last summer, my best friend and I, (pictures in the dictionary under ‘suckers for punishment’), took our collective 5 kids fishing to a small trout pond. We spread out in the best interest of safety and got the kids hooks in the water. Ten minutes in, a bathroom break is required. My kids are on the dock, in no danger of catching anything, so I volunteer to watch the rods while they take care of their business. As they made their way to the outdoor bathroom, the rod closest to me bends. I look to the direction of the washrooms and see the door closing, grab the rod and begin to play with the fish, hoping they come back soon so he can reel in this fish. Finally I bring it in, realize we have to keep it, put it on a stringer, and put it in the water. The door to the bathroom opens, they emerge and I have to break the news that while doing his business, he caught a fish.
All of these things got me thinking back to when I was a kid. Surely I was one of those children who just knew how to fish, had the patience of Job, and was no trouble to my Dad at all. I called him and asked. He laughed and told me a story about me casting in a boat and the rod slipping through my wet hands and into the freezing cold water. As he spoke it all came back to me. I remember seeing my Dad, in his underwear, at the end of the boat, preparing himself to jump into the freezing water after his favorite rod. Just before he jumped in he looked back at me as if to say, ‘Someday I hope you have kids just like you and try to teach them to fish’.