I’m not sure whether it was the lack of video game consoles, the un-structured playtime (i.e. playdate what?) or the fact that Al Gore hadn’t yet taken the initiative in creating the internet, but when I was young we spent most of our free time outside. Fishing was very, very high on the list of activities. It presented challenge, competition, and a harmless direction for the expenditure of allowance dollars. No adult types asked any questions.
There is no doubt in my mind that it stuck. I still fish every chance I get, albeit only with fly gear now. That, in turn, has led to my looking at the household budget with flies and lines at the top of the non-discretionary list. Nobody is asking any question, still. And while I don’t have children of my own (a debate on that particular point may well lean towards the general benefit to mankind of not having my progeny walking the Earth after I’m gone), most of my friends do. Those friends, for the most part, fish as well, and many of them are already getting their kids started.
Remember these little tykes? They’re not only fishing – they’re getting publicized (see here and here)! Those boys are six and four, respectively, and I doubt their barely two-year old sister is far behind. Pete McDonald’s little gal is out on the boat, and her favorite word is “fishy”! My personal fly tying instructor David Luna has been taking his boy out fishing too. Little Diego is 3 1/2 years old, and I’ve heard he can already outcast me. I love it.
I’ve got a point here, but I just can seem to get to it. Oh yea…get them started fishing! And the younger the better! They’ll be happier, healthier, more full of wonder. Teach them about catch and release – they’ll quickly grasp the idea of conservation that way – kill only what you plan on eating. And show them how to cook fish too. (Editor’s quick-note: Don’t ever engage in cooking a trout, wrapped in bacon, in the Desolation Wilderness, when there’s a bear alert on. Trust me on this one.)
You don’t need expensive equipment, and you certainly don’t need to start off fly fishing on day one either (goodness knows I don’t need the competition). Just get them out there, and do brag about the fun. Fishy Kid, an organization created by two very fishy (in a good way) dads to promote the idea, is running their Three Months of Summer Fishing Contest right now. That’s as good a place as any to show off what your kids are doing with a rod n’ reel in hand, and they might even win some sweet gear to boot.
MG signing off (still full of wonder, just with a never-dwindling supply of smack-talking capability)