Jun 17 , 2020
There’s a whole lot more to fishing than catching a fish, that’s what I’ve always told my sons. It’s about being outdoors and immersing yourself in the wonders of nature - reestablishing that deep bond we all have with mother earth. Seeing the green leaves of towering trees silhouetted against the deep blue of the canopy of sky. When you’re standing knee-deep in a clear water trout stream or casting a lure from a boat out into a bass lake – the stresses of the daily grind just fall away from you like unwanted beads of stress. That age-old challenge of catching a fish gives you a chance to be in a moment of time that will never come again.
Being a patient and sympathetic teacher is vital. My younger son gave up fishing for over a year because he felt like whatever he did – he’d never be as good as his brother who was 3 years older. I just kept encouraging him and telling him that he had the very same bloodlines, which meant he had the same amount of fishing talent like his brother. He eventually picked up a fishing rod again, and of course, is now every bit as good a fisherman as his brother. My boys have now gotten the rush of that experience so deep in their bloodstream that they’re introducing it to their small children the way I did with them. Their kids really love it, and the bond between parent and child grows deep at such golden times.
Of course, my sons know, and now so do my grandchildren, there are a few “rules” that you need to follow if you’re going to do more than just keep endlessly casting a lure into unknown waters. You may like to sleep in until 10 a.m. - but if you do you’re missing out on some of the best times to go fishing. Fish like bass and trout are early risers and are what’s called “low-light predators” which means they're more likely to be caught on overcast days, and at times where the sun is lower, like at dawn or at dusk. Also, unfortunately, trout often seem to bite the best when mosquitos are the most likely to bite you. The best way to avoid this is to dope yourself up with repellant before you get to the water, so you don’t become a tasty meal while you’re slopping the stuff on. It’s not easy to teach a kid to live with that annoying high pitched whine of a mosquito trying to puncture their skin – but still, you need to try your best!
Also to improve fishing knowledge beyond what us parents can give them, why not suggest they read various fishing magazines and online publications. Those often have good tips thrown in among the annoying ads that bring those dollars in to the publishers for providing those tips. And they might even show your kids some new techniques that work in unusual conditions you could find yourself in.
Of course, we always tried to go out of the way spots where we could feel like it was just us on the water together as a family, although that’s a luxury that’s not always feasible. But of course, it is a good way to get ahead of the other more lazy fishermen, and that will allow you to catch more fish than them. To be a good fisherman, sometimes you have to put out a little extra energy in trying out new places. Don’t get stuck going to the same old fishing hole time and time again.
Then there’s a few basic fish catching techniques you’ll need to emphasize. Don’t just rush your way to the water like a water buffalo who’s gone days without a drink. There’s no better way to spook a fish that you’ll likely never see again. And if you’re fly fishing, pay attention to how fast you are wading, if you see small waves radiating out underwater from your legs, those are probably trout you’ve scared up from moving too quickly. Always be slow and cautious so you don’t scare the fish away. Then when you do hook a fish while reeling it in, sudden jerks to the line are a big no-no - but then don’t let the line go slack either. Instead, keep a steady, taut line all the way into the net.
And remember where you’ve had fishing success and why. I advised my kids to keep a journal. When you keep a fishing journal you’ll be able to record what worked and what didn’t in real-time, and can come back for the details later. Keep track of where you fished, the water temperature, weather conditions and the type of lure you used, and chances are you will be able to repeat your success later. One son did this and the other didn’t. But then he didn’t need to, because he always read his brother's journal. Whatever works, that’s a good thing!
But fishing isn’t just about going out to the water. You can practice at home. As in any sport, one of the best ways to get better at it is by practicing. And you don’t need water to practice; you can cast your line in your backyard, at the local park or anywhere with some open space. As you practice, try first for accuracy, and then, once you’ve mastered that, try for greater distance.
And remember that fishing is all about enjoying yourself out there! At the end of the day, you want to feel like you had a great experience in nature. While you’re out on the water have a good attitude, keep your energy up and keep faith in yourself that you’ll catch a fish. A happy fisherman will not only have a better time, but he’ll keep the rest of his family smiling, relaxed, and in good spirits too.