Fishing Tips with Women, Kids & the Family
While some anglers get their start down this pleasant path on their own (often via magazine articles or books), the statistics show that most lifelong anglers are first introduced to fishing by a mentor, usually a family member. Below are a number of pointers (gleaned from personal experience, advice from others, and dozens of fishing mags and sites) that should help make the beginner's transition to the sport a smooth and memorable one.
While all these principles apply to youngsters making their first cast, most will also apply to neophytes of any age, whether it be girlfriends, wives (and husbands !) and grandfathers, too. It's never too late to start !
Be Patient . . . Be Very Patient ! Of all these suggestions, this one may be the most important. The goal of fishing (superceding even the actual catching of fish) is to have an enjoyable time. Unfortunately, anyone fishing for the first time can expect tangles, snags, and lost fish.
Realize that these events are likely to occur and take them in stride. Avoid negative criticism, don't raise your voice, and concentrate on covering a few basics while having a good time, and hopefully even landing some fish.
Tackling the Cons of Fishing
It's difficult or complicated. No more so than most other activities. It's a diverse sport, however, and if you walk into the fishing tackle section at K-Mart, you will probably feel overwhelmed and will not get much guidance from sales people. The way to overcome this is to either go to a specialised tackle store (like Sportfishing Scene), or go fishing with an experienced angler to get an introduction to local methods, places, equipment and the like.
It's boring. The traditional view of fishing is that of someone sitting on the bank, dunking a worm, waiting for a fish to bite. Most modern fishing activities are much more pro-active than this. With popular species of fish like Tommies Gar & Aussie Salmon, very few people pursue it by simply dunking some form of bait and waiting for a fish to strike. They move around while casting various lures, the game being one of picking the right lure, fishing it properly, casting accurately, and so forth. None of its practitioners find it boring, even when they don't have much success.
It's messy. If you fish with some form of bait, handling it can be messy. A wash cloth takes care of that, and handling a fish, which you may have to do to unhook, release, or clean it, may sometimes involve getting some slime (it's actually protective mucous) on your hands. Surely, you don't think that only men can do this ? It's mind over matter - if you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
It can be unsafe. Not really an issue. Yes, you're dealing with hooks that can cause harm. So you have to be careful when casting, and when landing and unhooking fish. You also have to be careful every time you handle a knife in the kitchen. What's the big deal ? As for wading and boating and the like, there are comfortable life preservers that you can wear if you don't swim or if you fear the water. Like driving a car and wearing a seat belt, use good judgment in a boat and around water.
It can be buggy. Yes it can, in certain places and at certain times. Often it's not buggy, and there are insect sprays and lotion repellents for bugs.
It can be cold. So dress properly. Wear layered clothing, good footwear, a jacket or sweatshirt with a hood, and angling or fingerless gloves. No one, regardless of gender, likes fishing when they're uncomfortable.
I won't look good. There are a host of catalog retailers and outdoor specialty stores that make clothing for anglers and other active outdoor people. Stylish, practical and functional is in. There is no reason that mom has to look like a dweeb, and if you give her stuff that she likes and looks good in, she'll probably be more confident about what she's doing. Plus she can also make a fashion statement !
The bathroom problem. Men have a clear advantage in this respect, but for many female anglers, this is no big deal. It's no different than if they were hiking, backpacking or biking, except when they're on the water. On most boats up to 20 feet long, there's no toilet, or head as it's called in nautical lingo. If you can go ashore, you can usually find some privacy to answer the call of nature. Bring some tissues, just in case.
Fishing With Women
Every now and then, a man gets tempted to invite his girlfriend or wife fishing. Fishing is something most people love, and if she enjoyed it, wouldn't life be perfect ? You can try fishing with women, but be prepared.
Some women love to fish. It's a great pastime. But lets not forget that women are different to men and, quite simply, they have different priorities. A man wants a full esky, a couple of mates, and a fish at the end of the day. Women, however, like to be comfortable. There is no such thing as "making do". Why sit on a cold, hard ground when you can sit in a chair ? Why eat soggy sandwiches when you can dine on chicken and champagne ? As most women say, just because you're roughing it, there is no need to be feral.
A Woman's Perspective
From a woman's perpective, quality time with your man can be hard to come by. You're both always so busy with careers, footy, cricket and the kids that its a wonder you get any time alone. So when he invites you fishing, don't respond with "I'd rather visit your mother". Think outside the circle. A fishing trip is great fun and can be modified to suit your own needs.
Keep It Simple Stupid ! This principle runs a close second in importance (and as an experienced angler, is the one that I am most guilty of forgetting). Even if your spouse's line is a bit too slack or their rod tip held a bit too low, avoid turning their first trip into a two-hour list of "DOs" and "DONíTs." Once you have already covered the basics, a good rule of thumb is this, unless it's something that will really prevent them from being able to catch a fish that day, don't mention it.
Some concepts can even be learned before the actual first trip. All you need to learn knot tying and casting techniques, for example, are a table and a backyard; once on the water, the new angler can concentrate on learning other lessons. The simplicity concept also applies to equipment and methods. Someone who has never wet a line before will do much better with a threadline reel and rod than with a baitcaster (which even some experienced anglers avoid due to potential tangles).
Similarly, live bait makes for an easier start than does learning to work a lure such as a Berkeley SP ! Begin with bait and use a float to simplify strike detection. If you wish to move on to lures on a later trip, then start with a simple threadline setup and lure. Following this comes the time for more advanced lure techniques. Remember, if that first trip is enjoyable, there will be plenty of future opportunities for instruction in the finer points !
Tips for Fishing with Kids
- Safety comes first. All the checklists in the world can't anticipate all of the safety problems you or your young anglers might encounter on a fishing trip. So the best advice is think safety at all times. Look for trouble before it finds you. If it finds you anyway, know how to deal with it. Whether it is big river or a small neighborhood pond, water needs to be respected. Show your child how to act safely around water, in a boat or on a dock. Use your fishing outings to teach and rehearse what they should do if they get in trouble with water.
- Establish Rules. No running. Keep your shoes on, and look around before you cast.
- Keep it Simple. Don't make your fishing outing a big production. Kids can only take in so much information at any given time. The more complicated you make it, the more frustrated they'll get. You don't need fancy equipment. You don't need a boat; fishing from a jetty, dock or shore will do just fine. Keep it simple. After all, your child just wants to spend time with you.
- Make it an Adventure. Like any great adventure, planning it is three-quarters the fun. Fishing is the same way. Even if the fish aren't biting, you can have studying a map of where you're going, exploring the lake, stream or beach, digging for worms, making a picnic lunch, or pretending you are hooking into a big fish.
- Keep Sessions Short and Interesting. Waiting hours for a snapper is just pure boredom for a child. It's a fact of life. Kids have short attention spans. First off, plan ahead. Check the forecast for bad weather. Look for a spot that has easily accessible rest rooms and a nearby playground. Bring snacks, and maybe some toys. Second, don't make the mistake of forcing your child to fish for hours on end. Sometimes a child will be happy fishing for 15 minutes and then playing for an hour along the beach.
- Wait for Optimum Conditions. Cold, wet kids usually don't enjoy themselves.
- Set up a buddy system. The youngest anglers need an adult "buddy and constant supervision.
- Quick Success. With youngsters, a little success, early on, will hook them for a lifetime. So, as you plan your fishing outing, make a point to find some spots that will quickly reward you and your little one with fish. Kids don't care about size, but they do like to catch fish, even if they're little ones. So, stop by or make a quick call to a nearby bait and tackle store to learn where they're bitin'.
- Hand lines are the simplest form of fishing and an ideal way to introduce kids to the excitement of fishing.
- The Worst Gift to give a junior or novice angler is cheap tackle. The inevitable malfunction will be discouraging and frustrating.
- Loving the Outdoors. It's never too early to show your child how to love and appreciate the outdoors. While you're fishing, take this time to observe other creatures such as birds, ducks or squirrels, and talk about simple ways to keep the outdoors beautiful, such as properly disposing fishing line or picking up candy wrappers and soda cans.
- Don't Compete.Give kids all the help they need with their rods. Don't compete with them this early in their angling lives.
- Seasickness.At the first sign of seasickness, take the kids back to shore and try again another day.
- First Aid Kit. You should have a kit with medical supplies to deal with all manner of cuts and scrapes, bruises and bumps, bites and boo-boos. You're likely to be some distance away from professional medical assistance so remember, in the meantime, you're the "doctor".
- Sunscreen. The ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun can do a lot of damage to skin, eyes and lips. Outfit young anglers with proper sunglasses, a billed cap, and clothing appropriate to the climate and sun conditions. Avoid fishing in the middle of the day. Cover face, neck, ears, the back of hands and all exposed skin with sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. Apply chap protection wax on lips.
- Introduce Angler Ethics. Younger beginners in particular are very impressionable, and fishing provides an ideal opportunity to teach responsibility and to reinforce the importance of good choices. Don't introduce too many rules at once, but do take time to properly identify and measure fish and to address size and bag limits (and discuss the reasons behind them). The first fishing trip is also the time to begin instilling a respect for fellow creatures, whether released or kept for the frying pan, and the environment we share with them. Fishing is a sport in which very often no one else is watching, and behaviors learned here can have incredibly far-reaching implications for other aspects of life.
- Handling the Fish. If a child catches a fish, don't force him or her to take it off the hook, or to touch the fish. Do it for them. After all, imitation can often be the best teacher.
- Catch, Release & Praise. Don't worry about catch and release. Better yet, let your child make the decision. Give him or her the opportunity to take their catch home to show friends and relatives. But do teach your child how to carefully and respectfully handle a fish for the day when they do release them. Explain why undersized fish are returned and let the kids release the fish themselves. Whatever the decision, don't forget to heap on plenty of praise for learning a new skill. You're after a lifetime companion. Praise is the way to go for even the most humble efforts.
- Loo.Always have adequate toilet facilities available.
- Capture the Memories. Whether your child sticks with fishing or not, only time will tell. But for now, what matters is capturing the memories so they have something to share with their friends, family members, and ultimately, with their kids. So take plenty of photos.
- Cold Drink Breaks. Summer temperatures can get pretty warm, so bring lots of cool water and other healthy drinks and make sure the young anglers drink fluids often to prevent dehydration or even heat stroke.
- Gory Bits.Avoid the blood and gore part of fishing. Dispose of or clean fish as humanely as possible.
- Be prepared to Keep the Catch. Don't take a prize catch home and have the young angler see it spoiled and thrown out ! Take a small cooler, zip lock bags and ice to keep the trophies fresh and tasty !
- Join an angling club. Some offer reduced membership fees for families.
- Above all, have fun. Keep the humour and goodwill flowing for the whole trip and remember fishing is a grand adventure for any kid. Don't worry about technique and don't be concerned about catching lots of big, trophy-size fish. To a young angler, a small Tommy or Garfish caught with a simple hook and float is a major achievement. For some children, a big fish might be scary.
The Family Outing
Deciding to take the entire family fishing is not a good idea. How can four to six members of one family enjoy doing the same thing ?
It probably means you won't catch anything all day, not to mention the other hazards like "what will you do when your kids keep throwing bait at each other ?" or "what will you say when your youngest wants to know if dead fish will go straight to heaven ?" or "how can you enjoy it if your eldest keeps asking 'when are we going home ?'".
It's best to discourage whole-family fishing expeditions. Instead, break them down into age groups or gender, or simply fish with those who want to fish.
Fishing can be easy, and its Fun. With the above in mind, a novice angler can have the time of his or her life with the family, and continue to relish and enjoy this great pastime, for years to come.
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