I’ve got the latest Rapala lure sitting here on my desk, and as I write this, my 5-year-old son is checking it out (it’s still in the box) and asking all sorts of questions. The lure has two treble hooks and he’s wondering if he’ll be able to catch six fish on the lure at one time.
I can see him turning over the possibilities in his mind. Then: “It could only catch one largemouth at a time, because they have big mouths,” Jack said. “But I bet I could catch three rock bass on it. Right?”
I tell him it’s possible, but highly unlikely. Unfazed, he wants to know if he can use the lure the next time we go fishing. That’s fine, I say. “So we’ll go rock bass fishing?” he says.
Truth be told, rock bass fishing isn’t my thing. I can appreciate the way they fight, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been elated to see one at the end of my line. And that’s probably true for most “experienced” anglers. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about taking kids fishing – other than the fact that it’s hard work – it’s that they’re for the most part unconcerned with what species they catch. They just want something to put a bend in their rod and spark their imagination.
As parents and mentors, giving that to them is our job. It’s not an easy one and requires a different mindset. Fishing with small kids means tying lines, baiting hooks, and working out tangles. It means answering a ton of questions that range from the mundane to the ridiculous and doing little fishing yourself.
And it requires the ability to toss aside any preconceived notion of which fish are worth catching and which aren’t, and judging success on the water by the number of giggles and smiles, not the number of fish in the livewell.