Teach A Man To Fish

By Dave Duwe - July 1, 2008
Catch a man a fish and he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Being a fishing guide, I take everyone fishing; from pros to first timers. The most important thing about taking anyone fishing is to understand their expectations. What exactly do they want to accomplish, is it to catch a meal or is it to land their first Northern Pike.

Keeping it simple is often the key to the whole trip. It doesn't make sense to hand over a baitcaster to a 5 year old, nor does it make sense to fish for walleye when the bite is finicky and the action is slow. I personally don't use nightcrawlers when I'm fishing by myself but nightcrawlers can be the best plan for a novice fisherman.

From my experience, the most effective method for fishing nightcrawlers is a simple round split shot and a single hook. The round split shot will allow the rig to move through the weeds without being tangled. Those little "wings" on the removable sinkers tend to get caught on the weeds. I use light action spinning rods and reels spooled with 6-8 lb Silver Thread line. Closed face reels are fine for novices; however I have been able to teach everyone to use a spinning reel whether they are 4 years old or 80.

The best method of presenting the bait is drift fishing. I position the boat perpendicular to the wind direction and slowly float with the wind. I will control my depth and speed by using my transom mount Motor Guide trolling motor. My favorite lake to drift fish is Lake Geneva because the fish hang on the flats most of the year making boat control a non-issue. Drift fishing eliminates the need for the beginner to cast.

For those guided trips where the main expectation is to catch dinner, I will try to teach my customers the sportspersons side of fishing. I will emphasize the importance of letting the big fish go and keeping only panfish for their fish frys. Most of the people understand the idea behind catch and release. I have had my own battles with my 5 year old son, however after really explaining the importance, he is now just as excited to throw back the big ones so they grow even bigger. After all my guide parties he always asked what we caught. If it was a bass trip, he doesn't understand why we even fish for them since you don't eat them, the thrill of the big fight is still a bit confusing.

Experienced anglers have expectations for each trip as well, often it is learning a new technique like drop shotting or lindy rigging for Northern Pike or trying to understand the patterns or locations for fish during a particular time of year. When taking the advanced fisherman out on a trip, you need to provide what they expect or they will be disappointed.

The great thing about fishing is that everyone can do it. You don't need the best equipment or a $60,000 boat; there are urban ponds or creeks that are loaded with fish. The greatest gift to give another angler is more skills or techniques to catch more fish. Being a fishing guide, I feel very fortunate that I can experience the teaching portion of the sport every time out.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .