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Fishing with Kids
Teaching children to fish is one of my favorite things to do. I also know for a fact that most of Hawkins Outfitters guides feel the same way. Time spent with young people on the water is a blast, the joy they feel when the make the cast, hook and play a fish and then release it to swim again is very rewarding. With fishing license sales decreasing every year it also benefits the resources if we bring new anglers into the sport.
We are often asked how I get my child into the sport. My answer is to make it simple, fun and time spent with an adult. We all know that kids want and need our time, what greater way than outdoors? Make sure that whatever fishing attempts you make with a child make it FUN! Don’t require that they fish, let them drive the boat, make the lunch, swim, pretty much what they want to do. At the end of the day the feeling you are looking for is, “wow Dad or Mom, I had a great day fishing”. Even if the day is not all spent fishing.
In Michigan we have a great selection of angling opportunities/venues to introduce a youngster to fly fishing. Some of my favorites are---
Dry fly fishing on the local pond for bluegills
Swinging wet flies for trout in some of our tailwaters for planted trout
Chuck and Duck for salmon in the fall
All of these types of fishing are relatively easy, don’t require much line control in the beginning and should produce hook-ups for the new fly angler.
First equip a child with a good pair of wrap-around, polarized sunglasses that have a device to keep them on their head prior to handing them a rod. Follow that with a hat to protect their head and help shield their eyes. Other items such as a vest or waders are not necessary but if you have them the accoutrements of the sport may make a child feel more involved and in the community of anglers.
Next the child needs to learn some basic fly casting skills. This is easier than most people think. Your goal is to teach the angler a basic pick up, put down cast. Pull out 25 feet of line and lay it out straight on the water, have the youngster hold the rod with both hands with their thumbs on top of the rod, and then lift the rod accelerating to an abrupt stop at their shoulder. Teach them to wait for the line to straighten behind them before accelerating into the forward cast. Have them stop the forward cast high enough that they form a loop. When the forward cast straightens drop the line on the water. You, as the instructor are only looking for a straight line, don’t worry about shooting line, mending, or other variations, just get the fly on the water in a way that will hook fish. Do not push the casting any farther than the interest they show, just deliver the fly and catch fish. The goal is to get the beginner the wiggle, the fish that will give them the desire and confidence to continue the learning curve. Teach them the hook set, how to fight the fish by leading it head first, when to reel and when to let the fish run, and finally leading it to the net. When the fish is landed, pictures, congratulations and an all around big deal are in order. If the fish is to be released show the child how to hold it facing upstream and helping it to recover. Share the excitement about capturing a wild critter and then being able to release it to the river.
The benefits of introducing young people to the sport are too numerous to list here. Just think about wading your favorite river with your child or grandchild, sharing a hatch or a big brown caught on a streamer. Before you know it that favorite river will turn into a lake in Labrador, a flat in Belize, or a float in Argentina. Those memories will stay with you and your new fishing buddy a lifetime. That’s what fly fishing is all about.
Hawkins Outfitters are happy to introduce anyone to the sport of fly fishing. Our guides as good as it gets in teaching beginners the ways of the rivers and streams. If you want help teaching a child please give us a call at 231.228.7135 or email me at email@example.com.