Encouraging the next generation to hunt, fish

Parker Costello

Parker Costello of Lockport is 7 years old. There are two things he is passionate about – fishing and wrestling. They are interchangeable with the seasons. With the arrival of spring, fishing has firmly established itself as the outdoor activity to do whenever his father (Kyle) or grandfather (me) are available.

“What is the biggest freshwater fish you have ever caught, Grandpa?”

“Well Parker, some of the fish were never weighed like a big 50-inch musky I caught in the lower Niagara River that was released. It could have been a 38-pound salmon I caught in Lake Ontario. I had a hand in catching a 7-1/2-foot sturgeon on the Snake River in Idaho, too. Does that count?”

“No Grandpa. You had to catch it.”

So goes our conversation when we go fishing; or when the family gets together for a cookout. It is all fishing, all of the time. I do my best to answer all of his questions and it amazes me how many different directions he can go in.

“I’ve caught 8 different species of fish so far,” he tells me. “I have ranked them by size for a list. Want to hear them?”

“Of course!”

He reads the list off and shows me photos of those fish that are each attached to the listing. Maybe I can get him to organize my fish photos for me and create a library.

In his bedroom, he has a poster of freshwater fish species. For every fish he has personally reeled in, they are marked with a star. Small stars are for the smaller fish, medium stars for the medium-sized fish, and large stars for the lunkers. He is proud of every single one.

He caught a channel catfish in the Erie Canal a few weeks ago and he had trouble reeling it in. He figured out that he needed a heftier rod and reel outfit to deal with the bigger fish. I got him one. He is learning quickly.

Memorial Day weekend we went on an adventure to the Niagara River. First we fished off the NY Power Authority Fishing Platform for bass and trout. Unfortunately, the railing was taller than he was and the fishing area was crowded. The early arrival of river moss also posed a bit of a problem so we decided to head to the NYPA Reservoir.

Upon arriving at the Reservoir, we found a great spot to cast a line. The many rocks that comprise the holding area were a bit of a problem and it wasn’t long before Parker wanted to head back to his home waters, the Erie Canal. Our time was limited due to a family gathering that afternoon, but he still managed to get in as many casts as he possibly could. Not even the temptation of a Reid’s Hot Dog (one white hot and one red hot with sauce) from around the corner could tempt young Parker from his quest of catching a fish. It made me smile.

Two hours later, I am with Parker again for a birthday party.

“What’s the biggest ocean fish that you ever caught?”

“Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘caught’,” I say. “Actually getting it into the boat?”

“Yes, Grandpa!”

“It was probably a big 34-pound striped bass I caught on my birthday in Cape Cod.”

“Did you ever catch a shark before?”

“Yes, Parker. I caught a bonnethead shark but it wasn’t very big. I was fighting an amberjack one time for nearly an hour and a big bull shark came and grabbed the fish and took off with it and broke my line!”


The questions continued, from time to time, into the evening. Parker is like a sponge. He absorbs everything. He has memorized what species of fish are in the Great Lakes, as well as the Amazon. He knows what fish were prehistoric and what they looked like. Much of this information is contained in a video fishing game that he treasures.

Now that things will be getting back to normal (at least some semblance of normalcy), it is good to see some of the kids fishing derbies and clinics returning this summer to get them out fishing again. Take the time to educate them. It could pay big dividends in a few years. Maybe he will be able to take me fishing in a few years.

Categories: Blog Content, Bloggers on Hunting, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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