The recent WSCFFI Casting Fair, held August 13, 2022 at Lake Ballinger in North Seattle was a complete success and a wonderful experience, well for adults, at least. But…, where were the kids?
Fly Fishing is a great sport for families, from the packing to go camping to the walking down to the river or lake; taking your kids on the road with you for a fly fishing expedition is an excellent opportunity to develop lifelong skills and an interest in the outdoors. The fresh air will do them a world of good while you form an enduring friendship that will last the test of time.
Take your kids fly fishing and you will have a partner for life. I remember those perfect moments following my father down to the river before breakfast with my new St. Croix rod and Pflueger reel in hand. We fished together all my early life until I left for college. After recently retiring from a busy hi-tech career, I now have more time to enjoy my love of nature, standing in a river and to experience that same amazing thrill of catching my first 6 inch trout. Today, my fishing excursions are still guided by the love from my father who showed me how to cast a fly and reel in a trout.
Teaching your kids how to become fishing partners for life is as easy as getting a rod in their hands, showing them a few basics and then getting out of the way.
Imagine, if you will, that you and your family have set up camp in a meadow beside your favorite stream, creek or river. Now, with camp set up, you and your daughter set up your rods, learn a roll cast technique, practice a few casts and head into the water. Remember, at first she does not need casting perfection, she just needs to get the line across the water, so you be the guide on the side and let her practice until she is comfortable. Wading in the water, she manages to make a cast into a pool shaded by overhanging bushes. Within seconds of that fly landing, it gets gulped by a trout. As she feels the rod tip come alive, you instruct her how to lift the rod to set the hook. You help her reel in the fish and into the net you are holding; you take a photo of her fish and see the joy of her infectious smile.
It doesn’t matter if the cast is not perfect or if she cannot name the fly, that will come later. As her fishing interest grows take her back to the river, show her the bugs that hatch to which fly matches what the fish are eating, how to read fish habitats and then how to tie flies at home.
Each time you take kids fishing they learn new skills and the fishing passion grows. And believe me after catching her first fish she may be hooked for life! I started fishing at 8 years old and this summer, I fished over 1000 miles of river frontage; traveling rivers in Oregon, Idaho and Montana literally driven by that passion and the thrill to get back on the water each day.
- ◊ Here are a few teaching tips to remember:
- ◊ Younger kids are easily bored especially if they are not catching
- ◊ Take them bug hunting and then play a guessing game about which fly might work best
- ◊ Take snack and lunch breaks to just sit by the river and reflect on what they have learned
- ◊ Local ponds or commercial fish hatcheries are a fun place to start if they allow kids to fish
- ◊ Remember, this is their time and you are the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage
- ◊ Starting with a simple roll cast will give them something easy to practice
- ◊ Verbally reward them for doing well and for paying attention – where their rod is when walking, where the line is while casting, where feet are most stable in the water, etc.
- ◊ Take some time out of your busy schedule to take them fishing on a local pond, you both will benefit
- ◊ Break each casting skill into small steps your kids can practice independently, then be with them to help putthe steps together
- ◊ Set up some casting practice rings (hula hoops) in your backyard or the park to encourage the practice for accuracy for your next fishing trip
- ◊ Above all, have patience, they are just beginning a journey you have had years to perfect
- ◊ Remember to have fun and laugh a lot
- ◊ Mix up experiences; explore the surrounding area, share your passion as an outdoor steward, take five minutes at the end of the day to pick up trash and old monofilament
- ◊ Encourage kids bring a friend to share this fun and sociable activity…, they’ll be talking about it at school for weeks
- ◊ Invest in the right safety equipment, appropriate for the size and age of your kids. Personal flotation devices are a simple addition that can potentially save your child’s life