Big fish is relative. To my four and two-year olds, six inches is huge. But what’s more important to these little fishers is numbers. Fish, fish and more fish, and don’t stop them coming…
(Photo of our 2-year old son Theo holding a fish caught on his Diego fishing rod)
With my wife Anne at the tiller of the Blind Fishing Porta-Bote, it was all I could do to keep hooks baited; lines tangle free, and take fish off hooks. Nevermind me fishing, although I did take aboard my frog rod on one outing to show the kids just what a top water bite looks like, which I demonstrated on my second of a total of two casts.
(Photo of Lawrence and the two kids holding a Largemouth with a Snag Proof frog still in its mouth)
The lake we were camping on is 3-6 feet deep, with most of it being populated with large stumps. Mix in ample grass and there was no shortage of fish. Perch, Blue Gill, Pumpkin Seed, baby Bass and the occasional Pike to sever hook from line – they all made an appearance.
(Photo of our 4-year old daughter Lilly with a fish of her own)
Gear consisted of Dora-the-Explorer and Diego fishing rods with the floating handles, (very handy these floating handles), small floats, 1/16 split shot, and #6 circle hooks. (Be sure to select the style of circle hook that isn’t off-set. Having an off-set circle hook defeats the entire purpose of the circle hook in that the off-set point is just as likely to become gut-hooked as a J-hook.) Add to the mix small bits of night crawler and stand back.
(Photo of Lawrence and his boy with the smallest fish caught that day)
All winter the kids have been playing with their fishing rods and come spring they practiced casting hookless plugs in the swimming pool. My 2-year old is a born thrower so trying to keep him from casting out bobber and rig was tough, never mind stopping him from reeling everything back in straight away. He learned patience in time, and was able to detect bites and real in his own fish in short order.
(Photo of Shimano’s newest pink Fishergirl with another fish)
Our four-year old daughter had little difficulty playing the waiting game, but even she would become bored after five or so minutes of inaction, which is when I would remove the float and have her fish by hand below the boat. It wasn’t long before she became an expert hand-line fisher. Once she got use to the feel of the bite, she was able to fish micro jigs with small plastics, imparting subtle jigging movements through her rod to entice pannies to strike.
(Lawrence contemplating future fishing trips with the family)
I’m looking forward to many more days over the coming summer on the water with these two wee ones, and my wife, who’s an enthusiastic fisher in her own right. She’s also got a good eye for reading water. Only once did she turn the boat around after encountering some significant waves, but the little Porta-Bote took it like a champ. Probably the most stable 12-foot boat I’ve ever been aboard.
Fishing with kids doesn’t give much of a chance to fish oneself, but it won’t be long before I’m teaching them to use a baitcaster and fish a jig. And then they’ll each want to drive the boat too…