Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Teaching a New Generation to Fish

Written by Adam Coholan, an active angler and  blogger out of New York  who writes about the great outdoors and  fishing and helps run web relations for Elliman Real Estate.   Contact Adam via email or you can follow him on Twitter.

Finding a private fishing spot in a secluded cove or inlet is one of my favorite parts of going fishing. I enjoy being able to get away from the chaos of normal life, along with all of the stress and the noise, which is something that most anglers will probably agree on. However, as much as I love all of this, I am even more drawn to the chance to share this beautiful experience with children and build the future generation of anglers.

I have been fishing for many years, and I think the intense passion that I feel for it comes from my older cousin. He is just over ten years older than I am, and when he was in his twenties he always made a point to bring me along when he went fishing for bass, salmon and trout. Jeff is now married and has a few children, and he doesn’t have as much time to fish as he would like thanks to a promotion at work. To pay him back, I started taking his daughter Sarah fishing with me and I thought I’d share some of the main things I have learned from the experience:

Establish The Rules Right Away:
You need to realize that supervision must be given to children, especially when they are out on the water. I sat down with Sarah before we even left the car to make sure that we were on the same page. All of my rules taught her about safety and respect. As far as safety is concerned, we discussed how she needs to wear a lifejacket, how she should ask me to help her with anything involving hooks, and she agreed to tell me if there was a snag. The respect we talked about started with his showing respect and proper care for the equipment and also for nature; the goal, I told her, was to leave no trace of ourselves when the sunset.

Start with One Child:
I took Sarah and her two younger brothers with me one time; they wanted to go since Sarah told them we were having so much fun. It didn’t take me long to realize that three times as many kids wasn’t about to be three times as much fun.  The two boys ran and splashed all around the creek and constantly picked on their sister.  After that, I made it a point to bring them out one at a time until they developed the concentration and appreciation for the sport.  Now I can take them all out as a group, and they’re so eager to actually fish they never bother each other unless it’s to joke who’s catch is bigger.

Do Not Forget To Have Fun:
You have to realize that there are days when you are just not going to get a bite, even though you are trying everything. We have all had this happen at some point. Most seasoned anglers live for that type of challenge, but young kids tend not to agree. They get antsy when the fish are nowhere to be found. If this happens, you need to be able to change your plan. You can go swimming, go for a hike, or do anything else to enjoy nature and help the kids appreciate being outside. Remember, you don’t want to discourage these future fisherman simply because you are feeling stubborn and you want to stay on the water.

I can think of nothing better than fishing with Sarah. When she gets a fish, I am more excited than when I get one. The odds are that someone taught you how to fish when you were a child. One of the best things that you can do is to give this gift to another child, passing on your knowledge and talents.