Take a Kid Fishing Before It's Too Late

By Rick Madeja - April 1, 2002
I can remember my Dad teaching me to fish and hunt many years ago. He said that those were some of the best days of his life. I really did not know what he meant until I got older and had a family of my own. Seeing your own child catch his or her first fish gives you a feeling that you will never forget.

I have had some great fun fishing with my friends before my children were born or old enough to get out and enjoy the outdoors. I have friends that are excellent fisherman and they have taught me many things, I like to think that I have also taught them a thing or two! But these days there is no one else I would rather fish with than my children, they are always eager to learn and never disagree when Dad picks the spot.

I have met many adults that with the help of spending time in the outdoors fishing and camping have been able to overcome substance abuse problems. The quality time spent in these activities keeps their minds clear and off of the BAD influences in their lives. I feel that if a child is introduced to these GOOD influences at an early age they may never even consider making the bad choices.

There is one thing to consider, if you look at the statistics fishing, and hunting to a greater degree are dying sports in

"Teach them the benefit of Catch and Release, but also teach them when it is Ok to practice selective harvest."
this country. In this day when work or other obligations take a great deal of a parents time it is hard to get out and expose your children to the joys that the woods and water have to offer. It is so important to make the time to get these future sportsmen out into the clean world. Plan fishing trips far in advance, even if it is only a half day trip, let the child look forward to going fishing with their Mom or Dad !. Make a special trip to a tackle or sporting goods store, let the child see the all of the equipment and gadgets ( kids love these gadgets) that these places have to offer.

Explain to your child that by purchasing these items they are helping to save our valuable natural resources! Explain that hunters and fisherman do more for the environment than any politician or any other group. Explain the reasoning behind harvesting an animal or fish. Teach them the benefit of Catch and Release, but also teach them when it is Ok to practice selective harvest. One of the best ways to extend the outdoors experience is to have a meal of the fish or game that the child has harvested, make sure to use all of the fish or game taken so that the child will learn good habits. After all you will be teaching them everything they will know about the outdoors.

I had the fortune last year to help out with a fishing tournament for children with special needs. These kids were from a alternative education program, their age range was from junior high school thru highschool. These kids for the most part were eager to learn and were happy to be out of the class room and out for a days fishing. I was able to impact even some of the older (know it all) kids. There was a highschool age young man that was having trouble getting a pork frog off of a jig, I asked if I could help him, he was reluctant to accept my help but after I was able to show him the trick to taking off the pork trailer he was willing to learn anything I had to teach him. I have to say that experience made me proud to be a sportsman.

Keep in mind that the child's first experience in the outdoors needs to be a good one. If it is too cold, blazing hot or the mosquitos are out in force this might turn the child off to the outdoors forever. Another good idea is to go after numbers of fish, even small bluegills or sunfish can keep a child's attention! A child would rather catch 20 small fish instead of 1or 2 pound fish.

If you are new to the outdoors yourself hire guide to take you and your child or children out for a days fishing. A guide really is worth the money they charge in a situation like this. You can learn the ropes of fishing along with your child, this will become a learning experience that you and the child will remember forever!

I have been reminded of things that I should have never forgotten by teaching my children to fish, this experience has taught me to slow down and pay attention to the basics. I have become a better outdoors man by teaching my children to fish. This time I have spent in the outdoors with my children I would not trade for anything in the world!

I hope one day to be able to help teach my grandchildren to hunt and fish, I hope that my children carry on the outdoor life that I have tried to teach them, I hope that the respect for the outdoors that I have will be passed down to future generations.

As I write this I am getting ready to go on a fishing vacation with my father Rick and my son Ricky, I would like to point out that I now am able to take my father fishing like he used to take me fishing. By doing this my son will be able to spend some quality time with his grandfather and I hope this will help keep us close as a family.

Remember a child is young for a short time, but the knowledge you give the child will last a lifetime. Take a child fishing before it is too late!

Editors Note:
A great way to take a kid fishing is by taking them to a youth fishing outing. Listed below are a couple youth outings durning the spring/summer of 2002:

Author Rick Madeja

Rick Madeja
Rick Madeja is an advid Illinois angler, tourmament fisherman and family man (wife Rose and three children; Melissa, Amanda and Ricky). Rick is a pro staffer of G. Loomis and is a team leader for Turning Point Propellers. Rick writes independantly for Big Bucks Bass, The Pro Fish Club News and Lake-Link.com. You can also see him occasionally laboring at Ed Shirley's Sports in Morton Grove, IL.

Rick finished 2nd place in the April 28th Big Bucks Bass Buddie tournament held on the Fox-Chain.
Finished 4th in the June 9th Northland Bass Buddie tounament held on the Fox-Chain.
Fininshed 19th in the Northland Bass Northstar classic (Championship) Held June 17th-21st out of Winneconne Wisconsin.