Now I know, you don’t have to say it. Many, many people have written why it is important to start the next generation of anglers early. They cite things like outdoor appreciation, fine motor development, early skill mastery, bonding with adults, and lasting memories when trying to extol the merits of taking kids fishing. I wholeheartedly agree with everything that they say. While these are all good reasons, I have my own reasons that are mostly self-serving. Let me start by saying that my daughter is five. She still needs and seems to want to do things with her parents. Since she was born, I have seen an exponential decline in the amount of “free” time that I have to devote to fishing. My “free” time is now swallowed by driving to places like dance studios or gymnastics venues or even trips to the mall to get fashion accessories (is it genetic this need to accessorize even at a young age?). So, I try to take her fishing with me whenever I can. We spend time together and I get to do something that I love. Perfect! Except, the fishing trip quickly turns into a picnic by the water, a spirited search to caddis larvae, or a water fight and not much real fishing actually happens. If some fishing does happen, my daughter will lose interest if we don’t catch fish every few minutes.
I have taught her about fly fishing. She can cast twenty feet, she has a mean hook set, and loves releasing her fish after the catch. She knows about the importance of pinching the barb, keeping the fish in the water as much as possible and the difference between a nymph and streamer. As you can tell, I am a proud daddy! Funny thing though, the last several trips that I have done with her she has managed to teach me more than I have taught her. On the last trip I was getting extremely frustrated that we were just not able to land the fish that we were hooking. She looked at me and said, “Dad, why are you getting so grouchy?” “We’re just not having great luck landing fish today and I really want you to land one,” I said. “I don’t mind dad. Wasn’t it awesome when that big fish totally jumped out of the water and made a really big splash? I thought it was going to pull the rod out of my hands! I like it when they get away cause I know that they will be able to go back to their families.” On another trip that was much more successful in terms of catching, I asked my daughter if she had had a good time. “Oh dad, it was great,” she said. I asked her if she liked catching all of those fish. Her answer? “It was OK dad. What I really liked was when we were having lunch and you let me have some orange pop and I asked you all about the bugs that fish like to eat. That was the best part.” Perspective is everything. She has reminded me many times over why it is that I love fly fishing.
Take a kid fly fishing. I guarantee that if you keep an open mind, you will learn more about why you love the sport and why you keep going back for more.