The Next Generation–Take a Kid Fishing!

By TONY REINHARDT

Do you remember the first time you went fishing, or the first fish you caught?  Odds are it was a father, grandpa, or mentor who took you out on that first trip.  I don’t remember my first fishing trip, but I do vividly recall days of anticipation as a youngster anytime I heard we were going fishing.

I would spend hours organizing tackle boxes, picking through flies, practicing my cast in the yard and just itching  for the call to load up in the truck and head out.  I would dream of big fish at night, and before I knew it the trip would be over and everyday life would take hold again.  It’s no wonder that I became a fishing guide.

Take your kids fishing. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Big Rainbow all on hisown.

The allure of fishing isn’t that strong for everyone, but it is still vitally important to get our next generation out on the water.  The percentage of anglers in our country has remained almost static for decades, in fact it has dropped slightly in the last 20 years with younger anglers comprising the biggest decline.

Experts point to video games, computers, smart phones, and our generally faster paced lives as the biggest culprits.  Some of that is undoubtedly true, but the biggest burden lies on us.  We, as passionate and dedicated anglers, have a responsibility to the sport and the new generation to get them involved in the outdoors and expose them to the world of fishing.  I still haven’t met a kid yet who would rather be playing Xbox when a fish is pulling hard on the end of his rod.

First fish. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

First fishever!

When you do take a kid fishing remember the #1 rule.  Make it fun!  It is no secret that kids like fun things and if the experience isn’t fun then they may not want to go fishing again.  I have learned with kids that action is the key, at least the first few times.  It doesn’t matter how big the fish are so long as there are lots of them.

I am a die-hard fly fisherman, but my kids learned to fish with bobbers and worms on local ponds stuffed full of sunfish and bass.  It is important to keep in mind that it is not all about the fish.  If the fishing is slow or the attention span of your angler is short find something else to do around the water.  Look for bugs, catch frogs, skip rocks or anything else that keeps them engaged near the water.

Take your kids fishing. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

That smile is worth more than all the fish I caught lastyear.

When the fun is gone then it is time to pack up and go.  Making a young angler “tough it out” or “stick with it” is not the best approach in the beginning.  If going fishing is a fun activity then they will jump at any chance to go fishing in the future.

If you are a parent or grandparent it is assumed you will take your kids and grandkids fishing.  But if our sport is to thrive, let alone survive, we need to look beyond that.  Can you take a neighbor kid fishing, a niece or nephew, the newbie at work?  Can you volunteer at school, the local TU chapter, or with the Boy or Girl Scouts?

We have made great strides in the last century in conservation and restoration as a direct result of anglers’ efforts and dollars.  We need to ensure that our presence will remain strong for generations to come.

Take your kids fishing. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Making memories to last alifetime.

Take a kid fishing this summer!  It’s good for your soul.  It’s good for the sport.  It’s so much more rewarding than going fishing yourself.  That big dry fly brown trout pales in comparison to the gleaming white smile of a kid hooked up on a 10 inch sunfish.  One afternoon is all it might take to change a child’s perspective for life.

Tight Lines,

–Tony Reinhardt

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Tony Reinhardt BioTony Reinhardt is the owner, outfitter for Montana Trout Outfitters in Missoula.  He has been a guide on the rivers of western Montana for 16 years and absolutely loves his job.  When he’s not working you’ll find him fishing with his two children or in the woodshunting.