No time like the present to introduce children to fishing

No time like the present to introduce children to fishing

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012 3:00 pm

Introducing our young people to the joys of the outdoors is very important and can be something the entire family to take part in.
Fishing is one of those enjoyable things to do and now is the best time for that.
During the spring months, the fish spawn takes place — usually in late March, April, May and some of June. Another good thing about this time of year, it is usually not that warm or hot. This is why now is the best time of year to introduce someone to fishing, no matter what the age actually.
But when trying to introduce a child in the 3- to 4-year-old range, a simple trip to a small farm pond or even ponds that are owned by your local city and county governments will do. For example, here in Union City, we have two ponds are owned and run by the City of Union City. One is the former Reelfoot Packing Company pond located on Reelfoot Avenue. The other pond is at the newly-formed city park out at the old Moose/VFW pond at the intersection of North Clover Street and Everett Boulevard on the north side of Union City. Being close to home, it’s not a lot of time and effort wasted if the child gets there and is ready to go 15 minutes later. Keep in mind, that when dealing with a very young child, their attention span is very short, so don’t plan on making a day out of it no matter how bad you might want to stay and fish all day.
Taking snacks, cold drinks and anything else that might make the young anglers trip more enjoyable might be a very good idea. Another thing is do not even chance the fishing trip if storms are in the forecast or close by. A cold windy day would also be a day that you might want to scratch and save for another day.
The main thing to always keep in mind is, when introducing a kid to fishing, it has to be about the them and them only. If you are taking your daughter or son out to the ponder even small lake, take them to the store to help get some equipment first; make that your first step and make it fun for them. An inexpensive $10 to $20 fishing rod/reel combo will work and there are plenty of fishing rods for kids on the market.
When you take your kids fishing, make it easy for them. As I mentioned, go fish a nearby pond close to home if possible that has some bluegill, bass, catfish or crappie. Set up one rod for each of the kids involved. Put the bait on the hook for them. Don’t make them touch the bait or the fish on the first time out. Let them decide if they want to touch the bait or the fish. Once again, it’s about them the first time out.
To attract fish, throw some small pieces of bread in the area that you’d like to fish. Bluegill usually are the first coming to the surface to eat the bread and this will usually keep your kids interested because they can actually see the fish. Use a small bobber, a small hook and a piece of worm. Cast near the bread and teach them to set the hook and wind it in on their own. If they need help, then give them as much help as needed, but make sure to back off when they are ready to take control. They will have a sense of accomplishment if they can do something on their own. When they catch a fish, make a big deal out of it. If they lose a fish, so what? Don’t yell at them.
For the first time out, don’t stay out for more than an hour or an hour and a half. Have some fun, catch some fish and head home. Most of the time, the young are ready to tell of their special day to someone. It’s better to leave a little earlier the first time out than to stay too long and give them a bad experience. When they leave, they should be happy and excited about a return trip next week.
Another thing that I highly recommend is take a camera. This is a must. This is one piece of equipment I have learned myself to never leave at home. As a matter of fact, I keep one just for my boat. Capture that special moment for all to enjoy for days, months and even years to come. Trust me, they will appreciate this down the rod in life as much as you will.
It is our responsibilty to protect our resources so we can enjoy them for years to come. By introducing our young people to the outdoors, we will help down the road in gaining more respect and knowledge of just how important the outdoors is to our society. Our young folks are our future: What and how we teach them now will determine who and what type of person they may become.
I can’t imagine what growing up would be like not hunting and fishing. That’s all I knew and know now.
Just going to a park or outside somewhere for a day walking, looking at birds and anything in the outdoors is called quality time in my book. So thanks Mom and Dad for spending the time you did teaching us to respect and learn about the outdoors.
As I mentioned, this can be a family affair and one that can be enjoyed by the children, parents, grandparents and yes, great-grandparents. One thing I can promise, memories will be made for a lifetime.
Speaking of spending time in the outdoors, Mike Mathenia of Union City landed his largest bass ever a couple of weeks ago fishing a local pond. It weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces. I used to work with Mike many years ago at E.W. James and Sons Grocery Supermarket. Mike has become an avid bass fisherman and fishes just about every day at some of the area ponds. Great going Mike!
Reelfoot Lake Conditions
Water temperatures on Reelfoot Lake were in the upper 60s at the first of the week and by now maybe 70 or 71. But with the cold front that is in the process of pushing through, look for the water temps to drop back into the lower 60s range. Water levels have dropped but this past Sunday night/early Monday morning rains didn’t help at all. Water levels are 3 to 5 inches above the normal lake level of 282.20 feet above sea level.
Water color is slightly stained to clear lakewide.
Crappie, bluegill and bass have all been good but now with the on again off again cold fronts pushing through the area, the fish are having a difficult time adjusting. Most of the crappie are either spawning or in the post spawn mode.
I would say bass are about half way through the spawn. I have talked with several fishermen who have caught bass that have and have not spawned out yet. And with these cool spells we are continuing to have, that will or could be the case for the next several days and even weeks. Now with the cooler temps, look for some bass to back off their beds and wait a few more days.
Last week, when I was talking about the Wounded Warrior event, I mentioned most of my sponsors donated something and I left out one. JD Distributors was gracious in donating sunblock handy wipes for all of the Warriors while they were out on the water. Thanks JD Distributors.
On April 28, the University of Tennessee at Martin Collegiate Bass Angler Team will host their 4th Annual Buddy Bass Open Tournament on Kentucky Lake and will be held out of Paris Landing State Park. For more information, please contact Club President Grayson Smith at 931-236-4627 or at grawsmit@utm.edu or club vice president Dylan Powley at 731-336-1402 or at matdpowl@ut.utm.edu.
Also don’t forget about the Cypress Creek Outfitters will host their inaugural Reelfoot Lake Legends Crappie Tournament benefiting the NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsman Outreach Saturday. For more information, you can call Dwayne Dunn at 731-446-0048 or e-mail at dunndwayne@rocketmail.com .
On May 12, the Reelfoot Lake Bass Club will be hosting their annual Big Bass Event on Reelfoot Lake. This tournament used to be held in June and due to warmer waters and air temperatures then, organizers of the open event felt like the cooler conditions my be in the best interest of the larger bass caught.
Please contact me if you would like to pass along any outdoor information to our readers.
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks.
                      Brent
 Published in The Messenger 4.20.12

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