It'* almost spring, and I'm getting antsy, so.......
The best way to fish with children is to is to troll quickly so the child might think it’* a water-skiing outing. You’ll want to use an appropriately sized sinker so as to keep the child about 2 foot below the surface. If you’re child has moved on from cookies to pints of ice cream, a sinker may not be necessary.
Actually, no, this is not how to fish with children. Children shouldn’t actually be used as bait, no matter the species or the water temperature, fish simply won’t bite on a toddler. Teenagers maybe, but that’* another story.
Kids love to fish, or at least that’* what they tell you at the tackle shop. I know I’ve gone to my share of tackle shops with fifty dollars burning in my pocket only to leave with a five-dollar bag full of plastic worms and a Snoopy fishing rod and Back Street Boys tackle box. Oh, I may have went in thinking “Gee I sure could use a new one piece, eighty-inch, medium action, graphite bait-casting rod”, but within two feet of entering I was stopped cold by the weeping eyes and blubbering pleas of a child who “wann fish wif daddee- PWEESE!”.
So you go out on the dock, or God help you in the boat with Jr. only to find that Jr. is less interested in fishing and more interested in whether or not you’re “guaranteed to float” tackle box actually does. “fishing wif daddee” turns out to actually be “being chased by daddee while I swat the air wif my wittle rod and twy to knock my tackle box in the wadder”. I see it on the docks all the time. For the first few minutes it’* a Norman Rockwell moment. The small child and father are standing in a typical fishing pose- most likely baiting a hook or practicing a cast, silhouetted by the distant rising or setting sun on the horizon. It does tug at the old tear lever, doesn’t it? Ten minutes later the scene is quite different. There’* ole’ Jr. running back and forth holding the rod like a drunken symphony conductor running from instrumentalist to instrumentalist to tap them on the head when it’* their turn to go “toot toot”.
There are a few basic rules to taking a young child fishing. To make you’re next trip more enjoyable, let me lay them out for you.
1. Never call fishing with children “fishing”. You either played on the dock or daddy fished and Jr. helped. The distinction is that if your playing, it’* like what you do when you play baseball with Jr.- it’* just messing around with all the equipment, but not actually scratching your privates and rushing the mound when the little stinker tries to brush you back. When daddy fishes and Jr. helps, it’* like when you build a new bookshelf for mom’* birthday and you sign both names to the card. Jr. probably didn’t run the buzz-saw did he? Yet, Jr. helped.
2. Never place a hook on the end of Jr.’* line. This will greatly increase the possibility that the trip will end at the Dairy Queen instead of the Emergency room. Also, placing a hook on the end of the child’* line is like taking the caps out of his cap gun and giving him 22 caliber shells. Just exactly how real does this have to be?
3. Do not let Jr. use your equipment unless you need an excuse to buy a replacement piece of equipment. This should be obvious.
4. Do not take any buddies with you. Buddies tend to not care what Jr. hears. Thus, your wife may hear at the dinner table that buddy-Bill’* wife is also known as the “fat broad that never gets off the couch”. Also, buddies don’t look for rest rooms when fishing, they use trees or the air. Of course, you do this too when JR’* not around, but if Jr. walks over behind the alter at the church picnic and pees on the portable-crucifix, whose your wife going to blame?
5. Under no circumstances should you throw the child in the water. A misapplication of rule two may make this seem like a good idea, but it should be avoided.
6. Children are like flowers. They need to be nurtured, given strong roots and every once in a while you have to show ‘em the light. Disciplining a child on a dock can be easy if the dock is empty, but when Girl Scout Troupe 77 and the entire roster from the Meadowview Home for the Seriously Handicapped are in attendance, you have to think twice about how you explain to Jr. that he shouldn’t have put the dead fish in your hat. You may just want to carry a notebook and on each offense, jot down a note or two about what happened. Show the notebook to his mother for added affect if necessary. This actually could be a fun family exercise when you get back home. Delayed punishment can be just as effective and is a lot less likely to get you arrested.
7. Do not attempt to teach an adult friend and his child to fish at the same time. It is fine to teach them separately, in fact good for you for doing so. However, teaching the two together especially if the adult friend is male could be troublesome. Imagine if a couple beered-up fishermen go by in a boat and see you teaching your “guy-friend and child” how to fish. Might look awfully gay.
8. If you catch a fish (and therefor-ignored rule 2) you have a problem don’t you. If you take the fish home, you have to clean it. One stinking little fish that Jr. will expect will feed you, your wife and the grandparents. There’* a fifty/fifty chance that Jr. will realize that you replaced the fish he caught with fish sticks by the time he gets to the table. On the other hand, if you’re a good citizen and you decide to throw the fish back, there’* a good chance the fish will die and float back towards the dock with the upper half of it’* body only covered by the water of JR’* tears. What should you do? Read rule 2 again.
9. Make an appointment somewhere, anywhere for 45 minutes after you get to the dock. If the trip goes well, blow off the appointment. If Jr. has lost his pants and you’re bleeding, you have an out.
10. Remember that this is for fun. If you find yourself twenty-five feet off the ground hanging from a tree in a sure-to-fail effort to retrieve JR’* fishing pole, breathe deeply and slowly and through your clenched teeth repeat; “this is all for fun”.
Fishing with a child is something we all should try. It makes you realize just how wonderful children and wives are. In fact, children and wives make a good team don’t they? Why break up that team? Stay home next time Jr! Nah, that’* no fun. Jr. is fun to have around and you do enjoy teaching him new things. In the back of your mind you see the day when the two of you will ride together in the truck at five in the morning. You slightly gray-haired now, him all grown up and ready to go out on his own. You’ll look back at your past and the boat you’re pulling and think “If I wouldn’t have had to go bail him out, we could’ve went fishing today”.
Chris Gustafson - www.fishwrench.com