Get the kids started on fishing early. Just make sure it’s memorable!
WORDS John ‘Bear’ Wills
It’s best to introduce kids to fishing slowly, making it fun and giving them as much freedom as possible. Yep, they’re going to eat mud, get dirty, trip over a rock, eat the bait, get stuck in barbed wire, fall in, and learn plenty of life lessons – all under the banner of ‘going fishing’!
Hungry and cold kids will always get grumpy so plan ahead. Our fishing trips were never complete without hot dogs in fresh crusty rolls cooked on the Primus, or maybe even an open fire. How was it that the tea never fell out of the billy while dad twirled it in 360º arcs right over his head to help it brew? Yep, real tea! And I’ll never forget putting a piece of hot dog on for bait soon after I got my first real fishing rod (a solid glass Jarvis Walker San Remo) and getting saved as I was being pulled into the river by a massive eel on the end of the line.
Ease the kids into fishing by keeping them occupied and interested. We always had sixpence (five cents) reward for the first fish, and if mum and dad were flush, there was another silver coin for the biggest of the day. Life may be different today, but some principles remain the same – kids are kids.
Many people only get out of town for the holidays or a long weekend, but why not pack up early next Saturday or Sunday and take the family for a drive? An extended break is ideal but even a day trip to a great location can create fond memories. Time away from normal confines is always time well spent.
Starting on a pier or the edge of a lake or river is ideal as there’s always something going on around you. Progressing to a boat is sensational but should be eased into without force. Comfortable life jackets are essential, as well as a legality, but don’t go planning extended trips to start with. Sure it may be snapper season, but if the kids aren’t capable of pulling them in, it’s almost pointless. Bread and butter species like whiting, flathead, mullet and garfish are ideal and the saviour of many outings with the kids. And while kids will play with a poor captured fish in a bucket of water for hours if you let them, better still, it’s a terrific time to teach the pleasure of catch and release.
If the kids get bored and just want to go hooning around in a fast boat, then take them, and if they want to bring their friends then even better. It is more important that they want to come back next time than having a couple of dead fish in the kill tank.
According to my mate Grandpa Baz, “Taking the kids usually involves endless bad music and alien clothing. And sometimes weird hairstyles. And maybe a boyfriend who isn’t smart enough to be stupid. But hey, were you a brainiac at 14? I don’t think so. My granddaughter likes Justin Bieber, One Direction, or any boy band with a knack for making music sound like a frantic ATM emptying money into a wheelbarrow. She also listens to music from ‘the old days’. You know, from the 90s. Kids have to look the part, though not always the part you’d hoped others would see.
“Kids are under a lot of stress these days, and not just because of the music and ignitable hair treatments. My parents had no high hopes for me, they were realistic. But these days every parent considers his kid a genius. De-stress your kid and take him or her fishing. Enjoy the music, tap your foot, be a groovy old guy.”
You may think you’re cool Baz, but you will always be a dag in their eyes, until they grow up and remember the good times – just fishing…!