Fishing with my Daughter

May 26, 2013 4:33 pm0 commentsViews: 110
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xDad&GirlFishingI love to go Largemouth Bass fishing and I really love to go fishing with my daughter. We have a lot of fun together and sometimes, we actually even get fish! S.C. is nine and has many interests, so at times I am competing for her time and attention. The key to us having fun is for me to remember a few things so I’ll be ready for many situations. I was never a Boy Scout, although I admire and respect many aspects of scouting, especially the principle of being prepared. In that spirit, I put together a checklist that can help any parent about to go fishing with a young one.

Plan Ahead– I make a fishing appointment with my wife and daughter. Soccer, basketball, choir, school, family visits, and birthday parties – the list of commitments is endless. I cannot just spring a fishing outing on my daughter, so I make an appointment. S.C. is a techno-savvy kid with a lot of distractions so rather than hope to get the time, I make sure I get the time. I also do not wake her up at dawn and go out.  We go prior to lunch. I want to be sure she gets some time as far away from it all as I can practically take her, and the appointment method works.

Rest Rooms – We fish where we can take a bathroom break. Many parks have decent facilities and are also rural enough to feel like we are getting away. I am not getting any younger either and it never hurts to be able to use a real bathroom.

Equipment – For me, fishing requires tackle. I bring four regular fishing rods with spinning reels on them. Why four?  We keep fishing longer in the event of a snag, lost hook etc. They are all rigged the same for bass fishing – 2/0 hook with braided line and soft plastic worms. S.C. has never had a kiddie rod. She picked mine up when she was 5 and figured out how to use it by watching me. So we fish 6’6” rods that match exactly – this is a key for her and I do not ask why. I guess I can be proud and say she wants to be just like me! If we ever simplify, we match for that too – bamboo poles with string and a hook with worms for sunnies. A side note – these are not expensive rods.  Most rod and reel sets I own cost less than $25.00 for the combination and if you wait for sales, you get even better deals. I also frequent garage sales on the way to and from the fishing outings and usually get a treasure for cheap – or even free.

Other equipment I like to carry is a bucket and net for catching frogs and minnows in case we are not catching fish.  I always have a first aid kit too, and a compass – we take walks in the parks and I show her how to read the compass.  A blanket to sit on, notebook and pencil round it out.  It is fun during the planning phase to pack a backpack with these things. I let S.C. offer suggestions and I usually carry what she wants. If something seems outlandish, like a doll or something, I ask her why she wants it. One time she told me so she could teach the doll to fish.  How could I say no to that?
One last thought: every now and then there are kids at the park who want to fish but don’t have rods with them. When they see us they get curious so I will ask their parent/s if it is ok to let the kid try to cast one of our combos.  If the parent/s are agreeable, we put one of the spare rods into service and now my daughter has a new fishing buddy besides her old man. I of course, ask the parent/s to clue me on to some of their fishing spots too. We are in a rather metropolitan, suburban area and are also blessed with a great diversity of cultures. This may be the first time some of these kids ever fished because their parents never fished. It is fun for me to help introduce them to a new hobby.

Playful Attitude – We don’t always fish. We may change our minds and go for nature walks. I usually have a nature guidebook in my car in case S.C. wants to identify a tree or a leaf, etc. Even if I know what the nature item is, I encourage her to look it up in the book. We find snakeskins, shells, bones, you name it. So fishing is just the main reason to get out in nature. It is not the only thing we do!  One time my daughter slipped in the bank and fell into a shallow creek.  She started crying and was embarrassed. Well, when I went to get her, I “fell in” too.  Now we were both wet and it was almost a badge of honor for her. Yep, Daddies do crazy things for their little girls. And that leads me to the next item…

The author’s 9 year old daughter S.C., with a fluke that she caught in Cape May, NJ.

The author’s 9 year old daughter S.C., with a fluke that she caught in Cape May, NJ.

Action, Adventure, and Alternatives – There is usually a line in the water with a night crawler and bobber on it just so we always have something to check. This way even if we stop actively fishing the soft plastics, we always have at least one line in the water. There are many outdoor activities that can happen while fishing.  We were once trying to net minnows and we caught a little turtle. This was a blast and in a few moments S.C. was proudly showing the turtle to whatever other kids happened to be nearby. To keep adventure in our day, we give mysterious names to the places we fish. One pond is surrounded by bamboo and we have named that “The Enchanted Bamboo Forest.” Just down the road at the creek we have “The Dark Woods”. Playful Attitude and Action, Adventure, and Alternatives might seem to be useless or redundant items, but to me they are critical to successful fun.  One thing I know about me: when an activity is fun I am more apt to learn from and continue that activity.

Relax – Fishing can be stressful with kids, especially when there are snags and tangles and boo-boo’s.  I just remind myself it is not so much about catching fish as it is about fishing or being together out in nature. Having four rods tends to keep us fishing longer. I have to let go of my strong urge to catch and compete and just go with the flow. We may have fishing contests when S.C. gets older. For now I relax and take every interruption and alternative activity as a gift. If we change our minds and don’t fish, we may just walk in the water and skip stones. It doesn’t matter as long as we are outside and in nature.

Edibles – We decide on what we are going to bring on the trip in our planning meeting. This also involves making more of an actual event of eating so when we fish, we have a picnic as well.
Before going into the woods on a serious hunting trip a smart person will be prepared. Before I go on an afternoon adventure with my daughter, we prepare together. This may not seem like a true backwoods adventure to many people.  I am not ready to take her out with a knife and a flint, but she at least knows how to bait a hook and cast. Last summer we slept out in the backyard and then drove off to go fishing as soon as we were awake.  We prepared for that too!  Who knows what we will prepare for this year!