Making Take-A-Kid Fishing Weekend more than an annual event

The author's 4-year-old daughter, Vivian, had a blast catching some colorful bluegills during a simple 20-minute excursion onto a Twin Cities area lake.With the first weekend of June upon us it’s time for the annual “Take a Kid Fishing” festivities and opportunities. This is a fine event to promote and a great time of the year to do it with summer vacation arriving for most children right around now.

My hope is that people don’t just take advantage of this opportunity one weekend a year. Being a teacher and an outdoor writer, this is where my two worlds intersect. Taking a kid fishing is not quite as big an undertaking as many people make it out to be.

Three weeks ago, a coworker and I took 27 students from my school on a fishing launch to Nitti’s Hunters Point on Lake Mille Lacs. The kids spent $25 each for a beautiful day on the lake.  While the bite was not fast and furious, all of them had a terrific time.

Something I heard a lot of them say was that they never really go fishing because it’s too much work. Parents I’ve talked to often say that it’s so far too drive to fish, it takes so much work to get the boat ready, they don’t want to take the kids out and not catch anything.

My thought is that they are overthinking what this fishing gig is all about. You find water, you chuck a lure into it, retrieve it and see what happens. Repeat as needed and keep it fun.

For one thing, you don’t need a boat. There are shorefishing opportunities all over the state and not just for bluegills and bullheads. The DNR and many local/county parks have shorefishing maps you can access online.

As a kid who grew up in the heart of Minneapolis, I never realized what a jewel the city is for people who like to fish. The entire shoreline of lakes like Harriet, Calhoun and Nokomis are publicly owned and fishable. We’re talking opportunities for catching big largemouth bass, state record tiger muskie, 10-pound plus northern pike, and lots of tasty walleye.

Just last weekend, I took my two kids to Lake Calhoun where we spent about 30 minutes casting plastic worms from shore. My kids are 6 and 4 so hardcore anglers they are still becoming, but they managed to wrangle in four bass total before torrential downpours chased us back to the truck.

That was about as easy as possible. Drive up to the lake, park, grab our rods, and start casting. A total of 30 minutes well spent.

I had to check the motor on my boat the other day and brought my daughter along with me for a quick spin around a local lake. When the motor passed its test, we spent 20 minutes casting plastic worms at docks and the weedline. I was busy working on my lure skipping skills to get underneath docks and fallen timber while my four year old daughter just did her best casting.

The final take for 20 minutes of casting? Zero fish for Dad. My daughter caught a gorgeous bluegill and a feisty largemouth bass that she can’t stop talking about yet.

Two outings, six fish, a total of 50 minutes spent building a love for a sport you can enjoy for a lifetime.

That’s what the spirit of “Take a Kid Fishing” is all about and I encourage all of you to embrace it every opportunity you can. Do that with your own kids and do it with children who are relatives of yours, neighbors, and friends of the family. 

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