The Art of Getting People into Fishing

One of the things I’ve learned recently was a better way to get people into fishing.

As a guy who loves bass fishing, I relish the opportunity to get out on the water and target bass. As a guy who has tried to get my wife and kids into the sport, I have to admit, I’ve done a better job at turning them away from it than towards it.

When I first met my wife, I took her fishing a few times, and she seemed to enjoy it. We went a few times, but then had to slow down due to planning a wedding and her grandfather’s battle with cancer. Once we were past all of that, I started itching to go fishing – badly.

We went a few times, but as a tournament angler, I got locked in trying to pattern fish and put together a program. Before I knew it, she wasn’t interested in going with me because I went for long periods of time without talking to her.

Years later, as our daughters got older, we’d go out on the boat and as usual, I tried to focus on bass fishing. They would dabble at it but never seem to get into it. One of my daughters fished a tournament with me, but later told me she was only doing it to make me happy. Whether that was true or not, I don’t know, teenagers can turn into monsters at the drop of a hat, but I guess I’ll have to take her word.Then, I spent some time around other anglers who got their kids into fishing in different ways. While I’m content to work at putting together the puzzle, people who are not into the sport can get bored with going extended periods of time without a bite.

I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to get kids – especially kids – into fishing, is to take them somewhere that they are constantly having their string stretched. Whether it is at a local pond that is stocked with trout, or a place that is full of bream that bite constantly, kids get excited when they are reeling fish in, as opposed to watching a bobber, or line that is sitting on the water motionless.Many of the pros offer kids fishing events across the country, and often they do it at small lakes that they stock with fish. For three of the past four years, Skeet Reese held a kids fishing day at a community park in his community with a small pond that California Fish and Game stocked with trout. Each year, parents told stories of how catching several trout in that pond made their kids ask them to go fishing again throughout the next year.

Bassmaster Elite Series and Major League Fishing pro Mike Iaconelli takes his kids fishing frequently, but he doesn’t worry about the results. His son Vegas loves to cast and retrieve a lure, so he spooled up an ice fishing rod with light braided line and a crankbait with no hooks and lets his son cast and retrieve to his heart’s content.

Then, when Iaconelli hooks one on his own rod, he lets Vegas reel it in for him. That way, he is active, and gets the excitement of the fight without the impatient wait for a bite. They do fish on their lake at home and catch bass, bream and perch at times of the year, but he doesn’t hesitate to let his kids participate at other times when the business of being a professional angler isn’t pressing.

I wish I had thought about these types of things when my girls were younger. I would have done more fun fishing with them as opposed to trying to help them understand bass fishing. I’m not saying it’s too late to have one of them become my fishing buddy for life, but it probably would have happened a lot more readily.

Try stretching yourself to allow people to experience the excitement of catching, as opposed to the challenge of fishing; it will help sustain and possibly even grow the sport.

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