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Catch a Memory of a Lifetime: Take a Kid Fishing

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"Taking a kid fishing is a great way to spend quality time and an opportunity to teach kids about the diversity of nature. Fishing also helps kids develop better coordination skills without being overly strenuous, gets them outdoors away from television, video games, and from the stress and interruptions of everyday life."


   Nothing matches that big smile a child has when he or she lands that first fish. With a few simple rules and taking the time to introduce children to fishing, you may end up with a fishing buddy and friend for life.
   Plan your trip to an area that is easily accessible and that is sure to produce some catching. A city or farm pond stocked with bluegills, crappie and catfish are great starting points. It doesn’t matter if the fish there are small. All the kid wants to do is catch something. There is nothing more exciting to a kid than having a fish yanking on his or her line and feeling that vibration on their rod, or watching a bobber disappear underwater. If they are not catching fish, then boredom has a rapid onset. 
   Fishing can be even more fun if a child has their own rod and reel, and a tackle box filled with tackle. The smaller rod and reels are often sold in a kit that includes attached line and some hooks and bobbers. The length of a rod should be the same or close as the child’s height. For the youngest anglers, get a ScoobyDoo/SpongeBob type combo. As they get bigger and older, get them a longer combo such as a Zebco 33/Rhino rod. They may also be ready to try a spinning outfit, such as a West Point/Buck’s Spinning Rod combo from B’n’M Poles.
   Another item that a kid would love to have is their own tackle box. They like to organize things and study each lure. Some of the items they need for their first few fishing trips in their tackle boxes should include: assorted hooks, round red & white bobbers, needle-nosed pliers, small split-shots, assorted flies, and some small jigheads with soft-plastic grubs. Most of these items may be included with the rod and reel combo kits. 
   Before leaving for an adventure that you and your child will always remember, don’t forget to bring a camera to record that first catch and other memorable moments, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, drinks & snacks for a little picnic, and most importantly, live bait. I prefer wax worms, because bluegills gorge on them and that will help for a successful outing. They are also the easiest for kids to bait their own hooks. I get waxworms from Grubco, with 500 in a container that will last for several trips. 
   When arriving at the water’s edge, remember that the most important part of a first fishing trip is catching fish. Try targeting bluegills first since they are more abundant and easiest to catch in ponds. My favorite way to rig for bluegills when fishing with kids is tying on a small fly and tipped with a wax worm about 12" under a bobber, and a small split shot 6" above the fly. Beginning anglers should be taught that as soon as the bobber goes underneath the water or they feel a tug on their line, they should quickly pull the rod tip up and start to reel in the line to set the hook and keeping the line tight. 
   After landing their fish, they should also be taught how to safely unhook the fish and release them back into the water. Let them get the feel of holding and releasing the fish after watching you unhook several fish. Before they attempt to try unhooking their own fish, it’s very important to have them use needle-nose pliers.
   When the kids get the hang of fishing with a bobber after a few trips, they will want to learn something new. Advance to soft plastics or grubs under a cork, Texas-rigged worm, or perhaps casting a small Bitsy Minnow crankbait or a Roadrunner tipped with a minnow. 
   Another important tip to instruct young anglers about is practice. You’ll be surprised to see how quickly their skills will develop, compared to other sports. A simple practice plug pitched in the backyard will help the youngsters quickly master the art of casting and enjoy the actual fishing experience when they can cast out the lines by themselves. They should also practice tying their own knots. The palomar knot are the easiest and the strongest for young children to tie.
   Realize that children can have short attention spans and may want to move on to something else after a very short time. This would be a good time to have that little picnic. You can’t expect children to have the same desire and enthusiasm you do after the first few trips. Make it long enough to fish, but not long enough for the child to become bored.
   Above all else, HAVE PATIENCE. You will be unsnagging lines, baiting hooks, landing and unhooking fish for them often. So don’t count on giving yourself much fishing time.
   Remember.......You’re building a foundation for your future fishing partner. Keep your trips short, simple and fun. And if they’re catching fish, they will be hooked on fishing for life.

Author:  Bruce Spangler

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