I started taking my two daughters fishing at a very young age–Rosalie was still in a stroller. We would go Bay Bass fishing in San Diego Bay or Trout fishing at Lake Miramar. It was very easy to get the stroller down to Moe’s Hole. I bought her an ice fishing rod and reel, a little 2-foot rod with an ultra-lite spinning reel, it was inexpensive and it became a toy for her. She would walk around the house reeling it in, and once she got the motor skills down for that, I eventually taught her to cast. That was fun for her because she would cast a Rapala with no hook on it, and play tug-of-war with the cat; they would play until the cat got tired. The whole time she was doing this, she was learning how to set the hook and fight fish.
Most kids are very impatient; the best way to teach them is to teach them how to cast with a lure first, so they don’t get bored sitting there waiting for a bite. My younger daughter, Lillian, is a prime example of this. She would wind the bait rod in every minute. Finally, I took the rod from her, tied a little gold cast master onto it, and handed the rod back to her. She was content casting it out and winding it in—every once in awhile she would catch a Trout; she caught four that day on the lure. From that day on, she was hooked on fishing. Even to this day, we can walk a hundred-yard stretch of beach, bay, or lake, and she will be right next to me, cast-for-cast.
You need to make fishing fun. You can teach your children at an early age, like I did. Teach them the fundamentals of casting, let them walk around with the rod and reel so it becomes second nature to them, so its not a stressful deal for them, so you’re not getting impatient with them. No kid wants to get yelled at for making mistakes–no one does at any age. Take your kids fishing for Mackerel or Bonita off a pier, or take them to the bay to catch Jacksmelt off the dock. Start chumming the water with little pieces of bread, and the smelt will show up; then, fly-line squid bits into the water and start catching 12-15 inch Jacksmelt on 4-lb test—this is high-pace action for a 5 year old, lots of bites and yanking and cranking. Kids like results and lots of bites—who doesn’t? I know some of you are thinking, who is this guy? Mackerel? Bonita? Jacksmelt? Trust me, my father lit a fire under me by teaching me to fish for these fish at age 6–and look at me now. You can teach your kid to fish for the cool fish later–the Yellowtail, the White Seabass, the Calico Bass–but for now, take them fishing for the Bay Bass, the Mackerel, the Bonita. Just make sure they have fun. Remember: it’s all about the kids.
Blog by Captain Roy Rose