By Marc Rogers
Teaching Kids to Fish
Over the years I have been blessed with many fishing partners. Some have become regular partners while others were just a one-time event. All of them have shared knowledge while on the water and I have learned something from every one of them. A few have become a fishing hero of mine..
Many years ago a gentleman took it upon himself to become my mentor and take me fishing at every opportunity we had available. He made time during my spring and summer vacations to teach me everything he knew about fishing for many species but he concentrated on my desire to catch bass. It was this wonderful man, my Uncle Larry, who built the foundation for my love of fishing.
Prior to him making it his job to educate me on tactics and techniques my limited experience of bass fishing had been approached using simple means. Live bait was the best way I knew of for catching bass even though I knew there were many reasons anglers spent hard earned money to buy artificial lures. My knowledge was lacking on how to use anything but live bait and my confidence in using artificial lures was extremely low. I had caught very few bass with lures and looking back it was due to lack of knowledge and confidence in them.
At approximately the age of ten years is when my fishing lessons began. My Uncle Larry took me on many outings and continued to keep the fishing simple using techniques I was comfortable with. While doing so he slowly added information on using many other techniques and was so subtle in doing so I did not realize he was conducting a class.
My most memorable lessons were given on a lake in Georgia that was surrounded with a golf course. If my memory is correct the lake was about 200 acres. The lake had a channel running through it at a depth of about 20 feet. The channel was very pronounced for such a small body of water and had shallower water on both sides creating a drop of about 10 feet into the channel. It was the middle of March in Georgia and the bass were ready to move into the spawning areas. The bass were in the pre-spawn stages and starting to feed heavily. The bass’ first stop on the way to the spawning areas were the edges of this channel and Uncle Larry was ready to teach me how to exploit them.
For over a year I had been carrying two bags of Culprit plastic worms in my tackle box. Both bags were still full but Uncle Larry convinced me to open them. He taught me how to use a Texas rig worm that day and the technique was very productive. We caught many bass that day and kept some for our meal that night. The lesson on that private Georgia lake started something that has still not ended.
My confidence in using plastic worms caused my curiosity to lead me to using many different types of lures. The confidence my uncle helped create kept me using them while in the past I would make a few casts with each and set them aside for more simple techniques. Slowly I began getting better and more confident with every lure type
It was not long before I was not satisfied with walking around a pond or fishing from a rented johnboat. My first boat purchase was a 14-foot johnboat with a 7.5 horsepower motor and I rigged up a mount on the front for a trolling motor. This first watercraft was not a high performance machine but it did widen my opportunities for fishing.
Not long after my first boat purchase I joined a bass club and began competing in tournaments with the other club members. Because my boat was slower and not suitable for tournament fishing I competed as a non-boater. This is where I also learned a lot about bass fishing. Everyone in the club shared information and techniques and I soaked up all the information they were willing to share. This lead to my second and third boat purchases so I would be equipped to compete as a boater in the club and many open tournaments.
Many years and tournaments later I was blessed with the first of two little boys and once again I began learning more about fishing. While I did enjoy the competitive fishing these two little anglers took me back to a time of walking the shores of farm ponds. My years of getting fishing lessons from others made me a better teacher for these two little anglers. While teaching my sons to fish I immediately started them fishing with beetle spin lures small enough for eager bluegill to take. They did not have the patience to watch a bobber float on the pond surface and wait for the fish to come to them so I took advantage of this weakness. Also, this rig made it easier on me by not having to bait hooks. Not only were the bluegill eager to eat these tiny lures some bass up to 14 inches also attacked them. A 14-inch bass on a kid’s small rod gets quite exciting for all involved.
Now my fishing lessons have started all over again from learning the basics to the latest techniques and back to teaching the basics again. I learned two very important lessons from these three anglers. Great relationships develop between anglers regardless of age when they share fishing time together. Also, fishing is just as much fun whether covering a lot of water in high powered boats or walking around a pond with young anglers eager to learn more on each outing.