It's summer, and kids ought to be outside!
The sport of fishing lacks one primary ingredient to help it get better - recruitment. While most BassResource members introduce their children to the sport, many families are urbanized and landlocked into cities where their children aren't being introduced to it. Yes, there are liabilities in doing such things, but there are liabilities to walking out your front door to go to work or anything else.
So do one thing this year and make it fun for your own and someone else's children. Take a neighbor kid from down the street, your cousin Manny's boy who would love to get outdoors, or a playmate of your child's from school. Heck, take a whole crew of them camping and fishing. Yes, it will be working, taking time away from your fishing gratification. But if people like you don't start introducing young people to fishing, who will?
It's not that hard to make a fun day of fishing for kids. Here's how...
Get them up and out early. Too many youngsters never see what the sky looks like as the sun rises. The smaller ones may not care, but the older ones might be delighted with how beautiful the morning is. And if you pick just the right spot with a pretty little park, the whole day will go very nicely.
Take them somewhere they can catch fish, even if it's just some tiny perch. There are many small bodies of water in city parks where the perch will eat up their wiggling worms and delight them for hours. But don't assume that catching fish is all they need to have a good time. There are other activities too that can make a day outside pleasurable and exciting. So please don't make them fish all day. Let them fish a while and then take a break for a hot dog or some other activity like hunting for butterflies and then go back to fishing.
Lessons about safety outdoors are wonderful activities. Teach them how to wear life jackets when in the boat and be safe outdoors, whether swimming, camping, or bank fishing. And while you're at it, be sure to teach them a little about some of the creatures they'll see around the water. There are turtles and birds of all kinds that will fascinate them as much as the fishing, more than likely. Be sure to show them how to use the equipment safely so that their tiny hooks don't end up in the back of your head, and you should all have a grand time.
Be sure to have plenty of adults if you bring more than one child. Sometimes, children get bored if left too long on their own, and wandering away isn't a good game plan. Besides, it isn't any fun waiting for your line to be untangled by the nearest adult while watching everyone else catching fish. Don't be discouraged or get aggravated if they don't want to fish for hours. Children have shorter attention spans than adults and may not want to stand and last forever, even if the fish are biting. Be patient.
Pick a day that's going to be nice weather. That can be challenging, but common sense should tell you that the children won't have fun if it's too cold to enjoy being outside. A pleasant day full of exciting memories can do more to create the next generation of anglers than just about anything else. So pay attention to the details. Treat their fishing trip as significantly as you would your own.
If you don't have the proper equipment like Zebco spincast outfits, check into libraries and other locations that have loaner programs. TPW has lists of these, call them or visit their website for the information. If nothing else, drop by a local tackle shop and pick up some cane poles, line, bobbers, pinch weights, and hooks. This inexpensive fishing equipment can be just as fun as a rod and reel. And use live bait such as earthworms and crickets for the smaller children especially. They catch fish, and they're easier to use for beginners than lures. You can even help the kids dig the worms up in the backyard the night before and carefully store them for the next day's use.
Be sure to take tons of photographs for future memory sharing. Take your patience and be prepared to have "everything that can go wrong" go wrong. But also be prepared to have one of the best days you've ever had once the fish start biting and the kids start squealing with excitement. Be helpful. Don't expect them to be able to figure it all out on their own. And most importantly, don't forget who is supposed to be having the most fun - the children. This will be the tough part.
So what are you waitin' for? Grab your kid and someone else's kid, and get out there! Share the fun and help this sport grow again.