I want to talk to you about one of the most important aspects of being an angler. The idea came to me about a few months ago when we had a break in the tournament season. I took my 3-year-old grandson fishing and watched him catch his first fish all by himself. If you've ever seen a kid catch his first fish, I don't have to tell you how special it is. Taking kids fishing is more than catching fish, though. It's preserving the future of our sport and the outdoors.
Everyone who likes fishing has an affinity for the outdoors. We're all passionate about it, and we want to preserve it and pass on our love for it. Watching my kids and grandson catch their first fish was way more special and rewarding than catching a 10-pounder. There's nothing that can compare.
Being outdoors teaches us things no traditional classroom can teach. We learn about nature and how things interact and about real life. Things eat things to survive. This is something that kids need to find out on their own, and the outdoors presents the perfect classroom for learning life's most important lessons. Being outside also teaches them to do things by themselves. Of course, with activities like fishing and hunting, they'll need a hand at first, but it doesn't take much to get a kid hooked on fishing.
One of the most important considerations when introducing someone to fishing is to make it fun. Don't take them out and treat it like a tournament. If they get hot, tired, hungry, whatever, let them make the call about what to do. If it stops being fun and you stay out there against their will, they won't want to do it again.
For example, when my son and I first started fishing together, all he wanted to do was drive the boat. Guess what we did most of the day when we went out the first time? We drove the boat all over the lake. He had a ball and wanted to go "fish" a lot more after that.
Fishing is one of those sports that anyone can do at any age. The best way to make a lifelong fisherman is to start early. Think about when you first got started. It wasn't about getting five in the well; it was about having simple fun outside. That's what fishing is all about, anyway.