By Mike Willis
Let’s face it. As fun as fishing is, it challenges those little ones during the slow days. My son got bitten by the fishing bug this year and I couldn’t be happier that it happened! He is six years old and determined to catch a world record bass.
In our efforts to land a lunker, we have had some challenges along the way. For the most part, I have been able to put him on fish during each trip successfully. However, certain days have proven to be painfully slow, even for dad!
One of the worst things that could happen to your little fishing apprentice is for him or her to experience persistent boredom. During a time that they should be fascinated and curious, a slow day can threaten to overthrow your best efforts to build excitement.
Before you head off fishing with the kids, make sure that you have planned ahead!
Since the primary objectives are to catch fish and have fun, plan out different fishing styles to teach your kids. Staring at a bobber for hours can be mind-numbing. Bring some tackle for jigging. My son got a kick out of learning this completely different technique of landing fish. FEELING a fish nibbling on the end of the line is a thrill. Don’t get sucked into thinking that you have to limit the little ones to basic techniques.
When I first tied a rubber frog on my son’s line, his little mind was blown. A couple of times, I thought that I could see his little heart pounding under his shirt as he worked his way through the lilies. I knew that he would likely struggle to land a fish on a frog because I still struggle with it myself. However, it is a spectacular display of power and aggression when a bass breaks the surface of that calm, flat water.
Once in a while, we will launch a little rubber raft or a small aluminum boat and use an electric trolling motor to push us along. Sailing the “high seas” of our local pond is an adventure all in itself. There is no need for a $30,000 boat to bring light to those little eyes. As far as my son was concerned, we were destined to be the next stars on “The Deadliest Catch.”
On the days that we had our fishing vessel, we brought my daughter along too. She is only three years old, but her inspiration remains unhindered by her age. While little kids, hooks, and a rubber raft can potentially equal disaster, we still found ways to catch fish and make memories. It didn’t take long to discover my son’s new favorite way to land fish.
We began trolling with anything and everything that we could find in my tackle box. A simple rooster tail lure pulled slowly behind the boat has proven to be our go-to tactic for the little ones. There is no worry of a snagged raft or ear. The constant movement of the boat keeps little eyes and curious minds sufficiently occupied throughout the day.
Perhaps the best part of trolling with a rooster tail is that these lures are great for landing fish. The treble hooks do most of the work for you, leaving the kids to simply reel at the right time. Using this very basic technique, the kids consistently landed bass, perch, crappie, and bluegill. Whenever we start fishing, the kids always want to start with trolling. However, I save this technique to re-spark their interest when I detect a loss of enthusiasm.
If the weather is nice, have your kids wear their bathing suits when you take them fishing. During the middle of a hot day, it is always nice to let everyone hop in the water. Swimming is the perfect way to pass that time when the fish won’t bite.
If you really need to save the day, snack time is always a big hit! The really young kids will get a kick out of their day’s catch mysteriously transforming into their favorite cheddar Goldfish snack. As they enjoy the fruits of their labor, you can rest assured knowing that they will want to return another day.