Teaching a kid to fish does not have to be difficult, if you follow the right steps. There is an old Chinese proverb that states:
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". How true that is, teach a kid to enjoy fishing and you will have a lifetime fishing partner! I taught my kids to fish, while pulling out my hair, and now they love it. I will show you how to take the pain out of this task so that they will come to love fishing and the outdoors.
First and foremost you must be patient with your kids as they learn to cast for the first time. They become aggravated when they can't cast as far as you can, then quickly want to move on to another task that they already have an interest in. Out comes the Game boy. I created a game for my kids that we played at home in the yard; you may find this fun and helpful.
Make three targets and set them out in the yard at ten, fifteen, and twenty feet away. Then assign a point value for each target, say ten, fifteen, and twenty points. We always played to a score of fifty. They may only play once or twice a week so let them win some too! Now you have a game they can play to learn the task of casting before you go to the lake.
Now that you have a cast master, it's off to the fishing hole!
Show them how to properly tie a fishing knot by tying on your hook on your line as they follow along, tying on their own hook. This can be done in conjunction with the casting game. In steps frustration, don't let them struggle with this task too long or they will lose interest. Out comes the Game boy. Ask them if they want you to do it, remember it has to be a fun experience.
Now for the prey, be sure to target fish that are easy to catch. Bluegills for example are abundant around most docks and marinas, and are very easy to catch. Use very small hooks and a small piece of worm for bait with a bobber.
Crappies are also easy to catch, and eat; they are located around boat docks with brush piles under them. Check with local marinas to see if they have a crappie house, if you don't have a boat. Using live minnows for bait and a bobber so they can see when they get a bite.
Catfish are also simple to catch. They are bottom feeders and eat minnows, stink bait, and a host of over the counter and home made baits as well. I recommend a sliding weight above the hook. Let the fish take the bait on a free line, if they feel the resistance they will drop the bait. Set the hook while the line is moving and you will catch the fish almost every time.
Don't try to make them a bass pro on the first trip, keep the action fast. I recommend a Zebco 33 spin cast reel. It's very dependable and near indestructible, it will last them for many years. Use a light rod not more than 5'6" long, any longer than that and their casting accuracy goes way down. Also with a light rod that one pound crappie seems to be as big as a whale. I would buy monofilament line not larger than 10 lb test in strength. Heavier line will make it more difficult to cast, and I believe lighter line catches more fish. A small tackle box is a must have for every junior angler!
Don't go out there and set junior up with a crappie rig and you tie on this pretty spinner bait, they will want to use the same bait as you do. Stay away from treble hooks! There are way too many points to stick into too many different places.
As I close be sure to teach them about conservation. Keep only what you will eat. Don't throw your excess bait into the lake, give them to another fisherman. Don't keep them out there all day, if the fish aren't biting try skipping some rocks. You may also consider hiring a fishing guide! They get paid to catch fish.
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