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Youthful Enthusiasm

by: David Coulson , Colorado 5/16/2016

I’m fortunate to have a daughter and son-in-law who enjoy fishing, which includes fishing with Dad.  Even better, I’ve two granddaughters who both enjoy “Papa’s” company.  While EllieMae is too young to catch the fishing bug, Alexandria, at three, appears to have contracted the disease with a vengeance.  Admittedly, her parents and I have done our part in exposing her to fishing but she has expressed far more interest than I would have expected at this age.

A few weeks back I pulled up to the house with the boat in preparation for the next day’s fishing.  It turned out Alexandria was there with Cody. When she saw the boat she went a bit bonkers, hoping to go boating and fishing that afternoon.  It took some effort to restrain her while I parked the boat.  Needless to say, it took some explaining that we weren’t going out that afternoon and she’d have to settle for playing in the boat.

One couldn’t help but laugh as she played fishing from the boat, casting her imaginary rod, setting the hook, reeling the fish in, and then putting them in the live well.  There is no doubt she has the fishing concepts worked out. 

I brought her rod and reel out, a pink Barbie outfit.  It’s always rigged with a casting bubble and fly.  After removing the fly I handed her the rod.  She immediately began pretending to cast.  With a little encouragement and coaching, she managed to make a few successful casts, much to our surprise and delight, illustrating kids are often able to accomplish more than we think they can if we allow them to try.

The real challenge that afternoon was bribing Alexandria in order to get her out of the boat for dinner.  She didn’t want to quit fishing, even if it was only pretend.  That girl definitely has Papa’s love of the sport.

Mother’s Day morning I made breakfast for everyone, which was followed by Sue and Jennifer heading out, leaving Cody and me to tend to the granddaughters.  After the morning naps, Cody and I opted to take the girls to a neighborhood pond to fish.  Needless to say, once Alexandria got wind we were going fishing, she was one cooperative child.

I had fished the pond earlier in the week with good success for bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass.  I figured conditions would be much the same and that proved to be true.  I rigged Alexandria’s rod with a casting bubble followed by three feet of leader and a large pheasant tail.  After casting the bubble out, I handed the rod to Alexandria to reel it in.  As expected, a bluegill took the pheasant tail and she reeled in her first fish of the day, nice eight incher. 

It was great fun watching my granddaughter’s excitement as she caught fish, but once landed, she showed “fear” of what she’d just caught.  With a bit of coaxing we’d get her to touch the fish, along with her sister, but she wasn’t quite ready to handle them on her own.  Over the next hour, she caught a number of bluegill, even making an occasional good cast on her own.  Despite the great fishing, it wasn’t long before Alexandria was ready to move on to new activities, so we made a stop at the playground before heading home for lunch. 

When fishing with youngsters, the time on the water is often short, but what they lack in endurance, they more than make up for with youthful enthusiasm. 

First published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan 5-15-16

Blog content © David Coulson
Member comments
Little D, CO   5/16/2016 8:34:42 PM
I wish my little brother had that enthusiasm while fishing but he gets frustrated rather quickly and gives up! Maybe a day of bluegills and casting would help as he hates watching the rod tip while bottom fishing. I'm going to get him out soon once he gets out of school and see if we can do any damage, but even if the fishing is slow its all about enjoying the day with the young ones and keeping them entertained!
 
Lloyd Tackitt, TX   5/17/2016 4:30:38 AM
If you can find bluegills spawning it's the best place in the world to take young ones. The action is fast and furious over a bluegill spawn bed. I've seen spawn beds a half acre in size and you can catch one on almost every cast. I did that with my kids and my grandkids and boy do they love it. I used worms and a bobber to make sure they got plenty of bites. The other thing I learned when taking little ones fishing is not to do any fishing myself. They'll need pretty much constant attention through the process. But then it's a lot more fun to watch a kid catch a bluegill than it is to catch one yourself anyway.
 
D-Zilla, CO   5/17/2016 6:47:19 AM
I missed that with my kids. They're both adults now. An unfortunate accident turned my daughter off of fishing, and the outdoors in general. My son was more interested in electronic diversions. Luckily, my son has come around. He's still learning the basics, but at least he's got the important part down. He's learned that fishing isn't always about catching, but getting outside and relaxing. Now if I could get my daughter to realize that you're not going to fall into EVERY lake you go to.........
 
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   5/17/2016 8:04:57 AM
Lloyd I couldn't agree more about not fishing when fishing with kids. I make them the number one priority, but I also admit to having a rod rigged. With Alexandria, she does "tire" of fishing and will say, "Papa you fish." She seems to enjoy seeing others fish too. With my daughter, I started her young and then during her teens things didn't go so well for us. As a result Dad's favorite activities were not on her to do list, quite the opposite. I figured I'd screwed up and she was lost to fishing. Once she got through college, attitudes changed, on both our parts, and now she loves to fish and strongly supports and encourages the girls fishing. Hope to do better the second go.
 
Kennywho, TX   5/19/2016 2:36:36 PM
Young children are kinda like my wife is about fishing - impatient. Children under the age of 8 or so don't have very long attention spans and do need lots of attention to keep them interested. Sure is fun trying!
 
David Coulson
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