I can’t honestly say I remember the first time I went fishing, but I’m positive that I enjoyed it. I have tons of photos of myself as a child catching pan fish at my grandparent’s place in Michigan, as well as catching fish off my family’s boat, and along the creek that flowed a few miles from my home in Wisconsin. And now I have photos of myself catching fish from mountain lakes 12,000 feet above sea level, off coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, on remote lakes in the middle of Canada, and in rivers and lakes deep inside the wilderness of our Nation’s National Parks. But it all started here:
That is the oldest photo I have of myself fishing. It was taken near my grandparent’s home in Michigan when I was probably 2-3 years old, and I was successful that day as well! See?
So, what exactly is the point I’m trying to convey, take photos of yourself fishing? No, I want to encourage you all to take the next generation fishing. The vast majority of the funding that goes to environmental projects comes from taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and license sales. So, keeping the next generation interested in the outdoors not only gives them a lifetime hobby, but also helps protect and preserve the environment for everyone.
Children today are overwhelmed with mindless distractions that keep them entertained and their parents sane. Computers, televisions, iPads, are all readily available to today’s youth and sadly many of them enjoy these devices over outdoor activities. But I say it’s time to reverse that trend. Instead of giving your child, niece, nephew, or godchild a toy or video game, give them a fishing pole and take them fishing. Kid’s poles are pretty cheap these days and they often come decorated with images of Super Heroes or Disney Princesses to further peak the child’s interest.
When our godson turned two we got him a fishing pole and took him fishing. We thought we’d probably get an hour or so out of him before he got bored and we had to take him home. But to our surprise he absolutely loved it and we ended up spending almost six hours on the water. At one point when we asked him if he wanted to go home, he supplied us with the best quote of the day. He looked out over the water and said, “No, let’s just stay here and fish.”
He caught two fish that day, and although he wasn’t too keen on touching the fish just yet, he found the sensation of a fish tugging on the other end of his line captivating. Now, every time we visit him he asks us when we’re going fishing again. We agreed to take him out again a few weeks later and when he showed interest in my fly fishing rod we started explaining the differences between spin rods and fly rods to him. A ranger approached us, clearly to check licenses, and when he walked up our godson began rambling on about the parts of a fly rod. He pointed out the rod, the reel, tippet, leader, fly line, and the fly which totally took the ranger by surprise. He was so impressed he went to his truck and gave our godson a junior ranger badge. The ranger then gave him a few more informative tidbits before he left, having never checked our licenses.
Now, I know not every child will love fishing as much as I do our as much as our godson does, but if you love it, I strongly encourage you to pass on that passion. You might just score yourself a lifelong fishing companion. Worst case scenario you’ll have spent a day outside with a child. Even if they don’t fall in love with fishing there’s a good chance they might discover something else outside that peaks their interest. They might love watching birds, hiking, canoeing, boating, etc. but you’ll never know where their passions lie until you take them outside.
So, give it a shot. It doesn’t have to be your child either. Take your nieces and nephews, your grandkids, your friend’s kids, your neighbor’s kids, volunteer as a scout leader or at a summer camp. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters is introducing the next generation to the fun and enjoyment they can find in the great outdoors. So, get out there and take a little friend with you, I promise you’ll find it enjoyable, as well as rewarding. Until next time, happy fishing!
- A. Egli