Recreationnal Fishing is certainly one the most exciting nature awareness hobbies to pass on to children; however, if you are to develop their interest, there are a few rules that must be followed.
For starts, a close member of the family must teach fishing to the child: Usually the father.
It is a fact that Recreationnal Fishing is at present a very much male-only leisure, but this situation has been gradually changing in many developed countries, at least in the younger generations.
Europe is at present seeing a decrease in the number of young fishermen mostly due to the change in the traditional family structure:
Forty out of every one hundred first marriages now end in divorce, compared to a rate of 16 out of every 100 in 1960. Hardest hit are the children. Children of divorce are almost twice as likely to be living in poverty after the divorce. The rates of suicide, poor school performance, criminal activity, and drug abuse are much higher for children from broken homes than from for those from intact families.
Four times more children are being brought up in fatherless families than in 1960.
In these families, there is nobody to teach fishing to the children. They will never learn, unless a close family member takes on this task or unless the child is sent to an Angling school during his vacations. Schools are scarce due to the lack of interest in Recreationnal Fishing shown by most government authorities and the difficulties linked to setting up an Angling school and obtaining the proper licences and professional insurance.
If you are a Angler and you wish to teach your children, here are a few basic rules to follow:
1/ Choose a simple way of fishing, with easy and safe access and if possible, with a guaranteed catch.
My favourite is pier fishing for Garfish or Mackerel.
For this you need only simple fishing equipment that will not drown the child in technicalities. You will also be able to fish, although I usually do not fish myself if I want to make sure my children learn properly.
A simple float fishing combo (I prefer a short rod as it is easy to manipulate), a few floats, sinkers and hooks and your child is equipped for fishing. All you need to do is purchase a Mackerel at the local market to use as bait.
I believe it is very important to teach float fishing first. It is easy to visualise for the child and the use of one small single hook reduces the risk of an accident.
You must teach the child to use the tackle properly and safely and teach him respect and value for his equipment.
If possible, the equipment should be his own, so as to develop a long-term desire to fish and not just an appetiser.
Children love fishing, you should therefore make the small necessary investment if you really wish to teach them that passion.
2/ Make that day a special day.
A good day’s fishing requires preparation, both for the tackle and for the bait.
You can develop a great sense of anticipation when preparing the tackle the evening before. You should also make sure you obtain the best available bait and rubby dubby so as to guarantee a good days fishing. If possible, start at dawn. It is often a prime time for fishing and it will also develop the sense of mystery that you wish to link to Recreationnal Fishing. It may also be a rare opportunity for your children to actually see the sunrise.
3/ If you catch a fish and kill it, make sure you actually eat it!
Your children will be very proud if they manage to catch some fish. I recommend you only keep fish that is good to eat and do not keep fish in excess. Make sure you cook it properly and make sure they eat it and enjoy it. By this you are reviving dormant instincts of Hunting and Gathering that are totally proper to the human race and are some of the most fulfilling instincts we have.
Never kill fish only to discard it later on; firstly, it is a waste of life and a total lack of respect for nature; secondly, your children will question you about it as they certainly attach a great value to the life of the fish.
4/ Discover a real relation with your children through fishing.
In the days of the internet and video games, adults feel more and more distant from their offspring and encounter real difficulties in communicating with them.
Recreationnal Fishing can be the link that can revive a relation between father and son. I have throughout my career, met quite a few adults who claimed to have rediscovered the relation with their children through Angling.
Who can describe the ultimate excitement generated by the bite of a large fish?
Make sure your children also get a chance to experiment that truly special feeling.
Louis Tchertoff 08-08-2000