Around this time of the year, especially up North people are emerging from their long winters, birds are singing, flowers are blooming and kids have traded their galoshes for Tennis shoes and tee shirts. About this same time, parents are now waking up on Saturday mornings to the lovely sound of “Mommy! I’m Bored!” Last year I wrote an article about Geocaching, and how it is a great way to spend time outside with your child, get a little exercise and have some fun. This year I decided to come to the aid of the many single moms I encountered last year valiantly trying to enjoy a day of fishing at some local ponds while have little idea of how to make it an enjoyable and successful affair.
Here is the skinny on how to teach your child the ins and outs of fishing; this is called fishing 101 or the sunfish academy. This is basically the easiest methods to catch small fish such as pumpkinseeds, bream other sunfish type fish. Go to your local sporting goods store such as Dick’s, Bass Pro Shops or the local bait shop, here you will see an assortment of fishing rods and tackle that you can buy all for probably under 40-50 dollars. Look for a light spinning rod and reel combo that can handle 6-10 lbs test line, it will say something like this right on the rod itself. I suggest a spinning reel because you will invariably be taking out tangles, snags and other inherent problems due to the line and reel not playing well together, and a spinning reel will probable be the easiest to deal with. The reel should be filled with 6 lb test line, 8lb test or 10 will work as well. This refers to the breaking strength of the line. This should cost in the vicinity of $30 for something that will last a season or two.
Next let’s deal with the tackle. I have seen many singles moms placing rubber worms on hooks that could catch world record Muskies or the biggest baddest Bass in the lake, forget it, if you are merely going out to have a good time match the tackle to the target species. Buy a small box of hooks, anywhere from size 6 to 10 should work fine. Remember 6 to 10, not 0/6 or 0/10 as these are probably as big as the fish you are trying to catch. Now that we have the hooks, let’s get a few floats or bobbers to attach about 2-3 feet above the hook. When you are fishing you can adjust this to the proper depth to keep the hook and bait off the bottom or to dangle at a depth a few feet below the surface. You can adjust this from time to time to see what depth the fish prefer, but for the Sunfish, keep it off the bottom or just a foot or two under the surface. Pick up a package of very light split shot as well, these are little lead pellets about 1/16th of an ounce in weight that will help keep the bait down, especially on a windy day. The hooks, bobbers and split shot should be about another 5-6 dollars.
Its now time for the bait, for sunfish and other small species, you can’t go wrong with worms, available at almost any bait and tackle shop. This is probable the easiest for a single mom with no experience to deal with, if you are hesitant to touch the worm, just lay it on a board cut it in half and find a way to thread it onto the hook. Other baits such as leeches, waxies and a host of others may be a bit much for the single mom to deal with without any experience. You can also try a small bit of corn meal dough the size of a pea if there is no way you will get close to live baits. But I think worms are the way to go to get enough action to keep the youngster occupied.
You are now ready to fish! Just find a likely area, you can find plenty of places via the internet or just by driving around a lake and seeing where others are fishing, but don’t forget to give other fisherman plenty of room. Now with a bit of practice you will be able to cast the line complete with bobber, hook, and bait, (split shot optional) a few yards from the bank and begin the fine art of fishing. If you see the bobber or float begin to do a little dance on the surface it could mean something is investigating your bait. If the bobber submerges or starts heading off across the lake, then gently lift your rod and twitch it back to set the hook. Your youngster will now be giddy with excitement anticipating his first catch. If you were the kind of mom who wouldn’t bait the hook you may also shy away from unhooking your child’s fish. It must be done and a great way to teach catch and release. Just lay the fish in a wet rag and wrap it up so you can get a grip and immobilize the fish, then merely pull the hook in the opposite direction that it went in. A cheap pair of pliers is especially handy at this point.
I hope this little introduction will help get you and you kids out by the lake and give you the enjoyment that I had fishing with my dad when I was a small boy. If you are a single mom with no fishing experience this article is really all you need to get started, and I’m sure you and the kids around you will begin to build some incredible memories. Please feel free to send us pictures of your adventures and any other information that will assist others in teaching their kids to fish.