A lifetime fishing philosophy for kids and adults alike

I’ve created a monster and I couldn’t be happier. 

To clarify, the monster in question is my son and his desire to go fishing. It’s what I hoped would happen ever since before he was born, but it’s been fun to watch it evolve. 

At age eight months, my son caught his first fish. Well, I was standing in the shallows casting for bass while holding him. I let him start to turn the handle of the spinning reel when suddenly a bass bit and got hooked. I had to take over from there, but he was controlling the retrieve and got the hookset as best as any eight month old can. 

It’s been a no-pressure situation. No forced fishing. When we’ve gone out in the past and he’s had enough, we’ve wrapped it up, no matter how good the bite.

In all that time, he’s developed a fondness for fishing that’s just beginning to show a life of its own.  At 5 a.m. on opening morning he was wide-awake, asking me if it was time to go fishing. 

We woke up my Dad, made a run to the baitshop, stopped for cocoa and donuts, then stopped back home to pick up my daughter who slept in a bit. 

The kids had a great time on a cold opener. We were only out a total of three hours, but that’s better than some of the adults I heard about this year. 

Later in the day, he was ready to fish again, so we ventured out after dinner where we caught some nice pike that he insisted on keeping. I tried to convince him that we should release the two-foot northern, but he loves eating them and convinced me that it was the perfect eating size. 

We broke our walleye curse on day two of the season and brought home three walleyes and a few more pike. He wants to eat almost everything he catches, and frankly I’m enjoying that phase again. 

In my evolution as an angler, I’ve gone through the phases of wanting to keep as many as possible for the freezer. I’ve gone through the capture the trophies. I’m now the, “It all depends on the conditions” angler. 

On May 23 bass opener, the entire scenario played itself out almost the same way, except we didn’t keep any of the largemouth we caught. I have no problem putting a knife to a walleye or northern, but I just can’t fillet a bass. 

My son accepted the response, suggested that we snap a few photographs, then eagerly released the bass into the lake. This scenario played itself out throughout the bass opener weekend with about 20 fish caught. 

I ate plenty of bass as a kid, and don’t remember it tasting bad, but I also don’t remember it tasting like more palatable species including walleye, perch, bluegills, and crappie. If we were in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and it was a smallmouth, I’d have no problem turning it into dinner. Once again, “it all depends on the conditions.”

My daughter has yet to catch the obsessive angling bug. She’s had the same opportunities and encouragement as my son; it’s just not first on her list. Which is fine. 

Fishing is a lifetime sport so there’s plenty of time to keep working on both of them. You can fish with a best friend or someone you hardly know. You can either talk each other’s ears off or spend hours on end talking about nothing more than what the moment brings. 

Sharing an experience like that with your kids is critical to me because if the day comes where there are communication issues, you at least have a venue for spending time together. Things work themselves out while casting together, dragging lures, netting feisty fish, and whatever the moments bring. 

Take a kid fishing, especially if it’s your kid. Remember that “it all depends on the conditions” is a philosophy that work well.

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