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Try getting kids hooked on fishing

Take a kid fishing is now pretty generic terminology for exposing youngsters to the world of fishing. Just about any child under the age of 12 would probably meet most definitions for being a "kid."...

Take a kid fishing is now pretty generic terminology for exposing youngsters to the world of fishing. Just about any child under the age of 12 would probably meet most definitions for being a "kid."

Over the years, I have detailed my successes and failures of getting my son, now a veteran angler at the ripe old age of 6, "hooked" on fishing. Truthfully, he's probably landed more fish than dad in the past three years. But it does seem like just yesterday when he landed his first fish.

Next up are my two daughters, ages 4 and 1, though the eldest daughter, Kaitlyn, has already hooked her first fish, a goldeye, a couple years ago.

The key to attracting and holding a child's interest in fishing is repetition. Just taking a child fishing once doesn't mean they will immediately develop an interest. My goal is to provide my daughters with enough time next to the water so they'll enjoy angling to some degree over the course of their life.

They don't need to become resort owners or boat dealers for me to count my efforts as a success. It's about fishing, spending time outdoors, having fun casting and retrieving, and most importantly developing relationship and memories.


Like many fathers of daughters, I'm sure I'll spend my share of time shaking my head in disbelief, and dreaming up ways to make a couple hours shopping flow (for me) as fast as time on or near the water.

Like many things in life, there are trade-offs. I will gladly walk in their shoes for awhile if it means a chance to follow their footprints in the mud along a river bank. I'm not above some serious bribery to set up a fishing outing, and it really doesn't matter if the child is a boy or girl.

Then it's up to the adult to make sure the outing has an element of fun for the child, even if it is not so fun for the adult.

So far, the fundamentals for interesting girls in fishing aren't much different than for the boys. Again, the priority is a positive trip for them, and not you. I'm convinced that making fishing a part of their life basically from birth on works.

All of our children spent time on or near the water in car seats and strollers within months of birth. They have landed fish around the age of 2 and I'm convinced it's a subliminal influence at a very impressionable age.

As the girls grow older, the fishing forays may take a bit more imagination. Always keep every option on the table. If your daughter likes Barbie, for instance, then if you find a cheap Barbie rod, reel, tackle box or even lunch box, make it their own. If not, find a Barbie sticker and affix it to something that is considered theirs for fishing.

Since all children are different, for either boys or girls you need to find out what their comfort level is when it comes to weather. One child might enjoy slopping around in the rain while another might hate it. The stereotype is that boys would be more into the slopping around, but that's not always true.

Finally, if the fish are not on the bite, and the attention span is waning, don't press your luck. Give yourself a cut off time and stick to it. And don't forget some sort of emergency diversion, such as a butterfly net or maybe a magnifying glass, to buy some time investigating the outdoors when the fish aren't biting.


My last bit of advice is to end each trip on a positive note. For whatever the reason, if you sense a lack of enjoyment or enthusiasm, maybe a side trip for a burger or ice cream can create an association with fishing that just might be enough to coax another trip, and another ... and another.

Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov Leier's blog can be found online

at www.areavoices.com

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