Getting young anglers to enjoy the sport of fishing can sometimes be a challenging endeavor. Casting from shore for salmon and trout is exciting as long as there is plenty of action. Drift or still fishing in a boat can be productive as long as there are enough toys and treats packed to while away the long “cold spells” between bites. Indeed, without something of substance to bring home (on a stringer or a photo), children sometimes wonder what the fuss is all about with, “this fishing stuff.”
Believe me, I have run the gamut in the fishing circle with kids. However, one body of water that had not been invaded by my family had been local ponds. Now not every area has ponds that you just drive up to, make yourself comfortable, and start casting away. Also realize that every pond does not have fish in it and more often than not they are on private land. Plus, ponds are visited by other species other than man so be prepared to share the water when and if you find one, (note: casting into the general area of a cow who is drinking from the pond is not a good idea, though your kids might find it funny that your trying to reel in a 400 pound milker ).
I’m lucky to live in area of Northern Michigan surrounded by streams, rivers, lakes, and to a certain extent viable, productive ponds. Though, as mentioned, I had never attempted to fish these small bodies of water before with my children, it was ironic then that my 25 th .class reunion was to take place near a farm with a pond on its acreage.
Now attending either one of your parent’s class reunions is akin to, as my son says, “having the seven day flu!” Thus, in order to beat the odds of boredom setting in within five minutes of arrival, my wife and I packed rods, reels, tackle boxes and crawlers and set off. At least with the arsenal we offered, the kids would be engaged for at least an hour or two. Little did we realize what an important event this would be.
After social obligations were met the kids decided to wet their lines. Within minutes of putting on a crawler and casting out once or twice, a couple of palm-sized bluegills had been landed by my children, shown off and then returned to their environment. Within minutes this hot action had attracted a dozen or so other kids and soon we were out of gear to outfit all of them. In an unprecedented achievement, still marveled at by all who were parents at this reunion, the children then shared the few rods and reels remaining and even helped release those fish caught by the younger ones.
Not too much later, between conversations with old classmates, my eyes were drawn to the bent rod and wide-eyed look of surprise on my young sons face. Though I wanted to run over and give him a hand I remained where I was letting him take on this responsibility. Eric’s previous run-in with a bass had been a 2lb. “ Smallie ” off the end of a dock in the Upper Peninsula . This however, was much larger and much stronger
What, in reality was a few minutes battle must have seemed to him like an eternity. Nevertheless, he brought the fish to shore, called out, “take a look”, released the hook and held up his prize. This 19 inch 4 plus large mouth could not have realized what an important step this was in the maturation of a young fisherman. As soon as photos were taken and congratulations given, the fish was released. Eric went on to catch many more bass that day. However, this one fish though hooked, had done its own hooking. It had captured and released the magic within a young boy.
This episode led to the following realization. First, by daring to try something new, we found as a family, something new about ourselves. Second, we should never discount the value of ponds for the possibility of BIG fish. Third, the excitement of a catch is a wonderful moment, but sharing the experience is awesome. Most importantly, it gave me hope that my children can appreciate the marvel and power of nature and her creatures. This spark will, hopefully, remain with them for a lifetime.