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Making Fishing Safe and Fun Starts at Home
To have a safe and successful fishing trip and educate youngsters, the journey must start in the home.
The secret to enjoying a family fishing adventure is held in the preparation. For a parent to have fun fishing in conjunction with the children, produce self-sufficient anglers before the trip. Of course, there are age limitations, but the more independent the child is before fishing, the more fishing enjoyment the parents will have themselves. The preparation should take into account the type of fish being sought and its location. Independence will instill in the child a sense of accomplishment in the trip and themselves — facilitating the desire to pursue the outdoors.
The Water is a Place to Learn, but Not the Place to Teach
Attempting a fishing trip without preparation may be a very frustrating experience for both the child and the adult. It would help if you taught a basic education in a more “learner-friendly” and forgiving environment than at the lake or stream. Teach the children the essentials of casting, reel troubleshooting, fish education, and safety before heading out to the water. To ensure the child is getting mentally prepared for the expedition, start at least a week before the scheduled trip. Early planning will give the child an additional outdoor activity and facilitate interest and excitement in the trip.
Practicing the Cast
After the proper equipment is selected or purchased for the child, considering age and fish species, the next step is teaching the child how to use that equipment. Trial and error is the best method; let the child practice. Four types of casts should be taught: flip, sidearm, overhead, and backhand. The motions are different, but the fundamental concept is the same. Wherever the rod is pointing when the casting motion is stopped is where the lure/bait should go.
After the basic motions are grasped for each cast — or maybe a few casts depending on age and the child’s comfort – accuracy is the next step. The use of a jig with the hook removed will give the child the most realistic weight and feel for which to work on accuracy. To master accuracy, the child must practice. The parent should place targets in the yard (garden ponds work great as well), starting big, 3 feet in diameter, and working down to small, 6 inches. The child should pick stations at different intervals 10, 15, 20, and 30 feet around the yard. The gaps can be in a straight line in one direction away from the target or sporadically placed around the target. Parents can invent games or rewards handed out for a child landing a lure on the target.
If the children have had sufficient time to practice casting, then troubleshooting reels, tangles, and malfunctions have taken care of themselves. It will pay dividends if the parent has the patience necessary to watch a child undo some knots. If the parent has not allowed the child to figure this out on their own or assisted them, there will be no relief on fishing day.
Children should know the proper fish species and what types of fish they expect to catch, in addition to releasing practices. A trip to the local wildlife office and Internet sources can offer much information on these subjects.
A great time to implement suitable safety habits is during the casting practice sessions. Such rules as “never try to take a hook out of a fish unattended” or “never cast while anyone is within 10 feet of you” are good parameters. Safety rules are only limited to the imagination of the parent.
Enjoy other articles about family fishing and children’s first poles.