So You Want Your Kids To Fish?
By Jack Becht
In today’s electronic age our kids are bombarded with a constant buzz and drone of a never ending static filled environment. How can the mundane pursuit of an invisible prize compete with that? How can getting up early, manhandling a bunch of gear, following an endless list of do’s and don’ts, and hearing a chorus of “Watch that!” “Be careful!” “Not like that!” “Over here” and “Pay attention” ever be perceived as ‘fun’. It can’t. If you want your kids to grow up loving to fish, remember this, “They are kids first, your kids second and fisherpersons a distant third”.
Wrap your head around the fact that YOU may not be the best person to teach them. Yes, it’s true; you know more than most fishermen, you have the best gear, have been doing it longer and with greater success than almost everyone you know, but let’s face it. There is a reason you aren’t homeschooling. You may not be the one who is positioned best to introduce your kids to fishing. Ask yourself simple questions. What else have you taught them? What gear will they lose, I mean use? Yes, the gear they don’t outright drop over board, kick off the dock or claim was never on board, they will step on, close a car door or trunk on or disassemble. Perhaps there is a close friend, usually older than you, who is a better candidate to introduce your kids to fishing. Call him or her. Tell them what you’re thinking and ask if they would like to help. Effective mentoring is not always about being the smartest or most qualified person in the room. It very often comes down to finding and recognizing the most qualified person for the task. And it may not be you!
Be firm, but don’t yell. They’re kids. They look just like kids. They act just like kids. They have attention spans just like kids. The shorter the child, the shorter the attention span. A 4 AM wake up to be on a major bite and a hot pursuit is probably not the best foray into a life long adventure. Pick your moments. Try cane poles for bait fish off the rocks instead of trolling offshore. Go to the beach, bring nets and cheap tackle. Don’t get hung up on the ‘right bait’ ‘right place’ ‘right time’. Think more like a kid and less like a guide. Dough balls still work and you won’t have to bloody anything right at the outset. Most of all put them on fish. Chum if you have to but let them see the fish! Cheap fish flavored cat food works great. Sea birds love it, too. I’ve even seen adults resort to feeding seagulls when the fishing is slow. The goal is to let the kids enjoy their time on the water. Not you. If it is to be about them really make it about them!
Be firm, but don’t yell. Put together a plan with the optimum likelihood for success and minimize the risks. Proper preplanning will reduce the chances something can go wrong. Find your local “Take A Kid Fishing” event well in advance and make it a priority for YOU. It’s important for you make sure their experience is your primary goal. Get the day off, get the kids ready by getting them involved with the preparations. Bring the food and snacks they will appreciate. If the thought of crackers and crumbs all over the carpet of that bass boat makes your skin crawl, leave the boat home. Take pictures of the day, with or without a prize catch and get them published online. You know they are going back to the computer so let them see themselves online or in print.
Be firm, but don’t yell. And don’t push it. If the mud is more appealing than the pole, make mud pies. They will come back when and if they are ready. If minnows are destined to be ‘pets’ in paper cups, so be it. The universe can spare a minnow or two as a child learns about animal husbandry. If the day isn’t working out as planned, relax. Go with what is. I recently had the opportunity to take a friend of mine’s 9 year old fishing. I was convinced he would take to it like, well, a fish to water. No good. Nothing worked. Even the live well, stocked with eager anchovies didn’t hold him for long. That’s when I asked him if he wanted to drive the boat. Fishing the kelp soon became a trolling trip in open water with a kid at the helm. By the way, we caught nothing and burned a whole lot more gas than expected. He loved it!
Be firm, but don’t yell. A lifetime doesn’t happen in a day. A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work. And a day of fishing, being outdoors, enjoying what has already become a way of life for you with your kids is priceless. Find the common ground. You’ll be amazed at what youngsters see, hear and talk about when they’ve been fishing.
My dad had it easy. My brother and I lived for the moment when the talk turned to the next fishing trip. He couldn’t slip out the door without one of us asking where, when and what he was going for. My kids were different. They were much more inclined to get an Xbox instead of a tackle box. They showed little interest in any of my outdoor passions when they were younger. Probably because of my lack of following some of these guidelines. Not so today. They are all very passionate about the outdoors, each in their own way. So no matter how the moments go now, just like in fishing, there is always a next time. And before you know it, you’ll be taking your grandkids fishing. And you’ll likely be even better at that.
Jack Becht is Vice President and General Manage of Team Fish, Inc. in San Diego and the maker of the FishEye Camera Jig and the CastMate Systems line of tackle management for float tubes and kayaks.
Jack's Fishing Secrets - Blog
Chum is a mixed bait that works on every species of target fish, both salt and freshwater…period. That’s why!
Chum can be an exotic [and expensive] blend of secret ingredients or simple table scraps. It is up to you. Some species of fish come directly to the chum slick. Others are drawn to the smaller bait fish that always find and surround the chum.
Chum At Team Fish
Here at Team Fish, Inc. we have given up on the expensive pre- made concoctions and have reverted back to our roots. For our chumming saltwater efforts we start with a trip to the fish department of our local supermarket. We have introduced ourselves to the manager and asked about how they dispose of their out of date fish or trimmings. We explained to the store what we were trying to do and offered to buy the waste trimmings and out of date seafood items. In one case we were asked for a 5 gallon bucket with a cover and they would gladly fill it. When ready, we come by and pick it up.
I have never paid more than a few dollars for all we were willing to take. Be sure to highlight the recycling efforts and re-purposing nature of what you are trying to do. No one likes to throw items away if they can be sold or put to use. If you start to hear about ‘health department’ concerns and the like, go to another store. You’ll soon find a manager or counter person willing to help.Chum in a bucket
First step in chumming is to plan on your storage container. I like to reuse half gallon milk or juice containers. They open fully to a wide mouth and re-close easily with a stapler. They fit nicely in the freezer. Be sure to leave a few inches at the top for expansion when you freeze them. A broken chum container in a freezer is not a conversation you want to have or a mess you want to clean. Any suitable container can be put to use.
Next is to find a mixing bucket and add a mixture of finely crumbled and full size pieces of low cost dry cat food or even stale bread. Combine the scraps you were able to acquire from the fish store. This might be a good time to mention you can use your own fish scraps or left over bait from a previous trip. Chum should have a blend of piece sizes to cover a wide range of depths as the frozen chum melts. Adding any quantity of menhaden oil is a great idea, but pricey. Same thing with cans of tuna. We like to add a number of standard-size cans of cat food. Don’t use that fancy gourmet kitty food. You want the cheap, smelly kind for chumming.
When I was a kid, cans of niblet corn were a required ingredient. I’ve caught plenty of fish with corn in the stomach. If you still mistakenly believe corn kills fish, leave it out and check local regulations. Rice and noodles work well also.Your recipe can be adjusted as needed for the particulars of your target species and what ingredients you can get your hands on. Flour, oatmeal, fillers, binders and secret enhancers all find their way into one or more of our mixes every time. Letting it sit to distribute flavors and having the dry parts soak in is a great idea but not always feasible. Once evenly blended it can be ladled into your containers for freezing until ready.
Here’s a pro tip: Add a few golf ball sized rocks wrapped in cheesecloth into the container before filling. Leave a piece of cloth trailing out of the top. This will aid in the removal of the chum once frozen as well as keep the rocks in place as the frozen block melts. The rocks add a weight to sink the block easily. I’ve seen an old sock used for chumming with a string tied to it as it was suspended over the side. Now you can put it on the bottom, suspend it mid water or keep it near the surface, it’s up to you. Whatever works is fine.
The paper containers can be torn away or the frozen block can be lifted out when ready. Commercially available nylon sack cloths, onion bags and wire mesh holders or simply holes in the container will let the melting chum block put off the irresistible trail right to your location and really helps your chumming efforts.
As with everything we do, be sure to check your local regulations and always respect the environment. You will find chumming to be a great addition to your angling arsenal
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