Aidan and I fished our second event on the Future Pro Tour at Folsom Lake a couple of weeks ago and are gearing up for Clear Lake on May 17th. Unfortunately Folsom didn’t go quite as planned as halfway through the tournament our cranking battery died and we had to get towed in. After some slow fishing in the morning and electrical issues in the afternoon, the tournament was still a success! Aidan caught the first keeper of the day, we weighed in five fish, and we spent the entire day together making memories. After the tournament, I got to thinking about ways you can prepare your child not only to fish, but for unfortunate events that can happen out on the water.
When I am practicing for a father son tournament I employ a two-part plan. The first part of the plan is to find fish (duh!) and the second part of the plan is to figure out techniques in which Aidan can catch those fish (in future segments I will cover specific techniques and baits). Since kids mature both physically and mentally at different rates, you will want to use techniques and baits that keep them engaged and help them succeed.
Here is a list of skills to consider teaching whether you are practicing for a tournament or just fun fishing:
How to cast
– It takes practice and repetition in order to be proficient at casting; this includes baits thrown on both bait casting and spinning reels. Knowing the correct technique from the beginning will shorten their learning curve and make fishing more enjoyable.
– Start with the easy knots first (Palomar) and then teach the more complex (double uni) as their skill improves.
How to use the net
– Don’t take this skill for granted as it may mean the difference between them netting your 10lber or knocking it off your bait! I always net Aidan’s fish regardless of size and have him net mine. High fives once the fish is in the boat are a must!
How to run the trolling motor
– Put it on low and let them run the boat while you take a break and have a sandwich. If they start catching fish while running the boat you may find yourself fishing from the back on a regular basis.
How to drive the boat
– It’s fun and may come in handy in case of an emergency. When Aidan was about five, I let him sit in my lap and steer while I adjusted the throttle. Of course use your best judgment. I wouldn’t teach Aidan to drive if I didn’t feel he was capable.
What to do in case of an emergency
– Unfortunate events out on the water can happen both at 0 mph and 65mph. Have a plan in place for emergencies and teach them how to signal and/or call for help (air horn, cell phone, whistle, etc.).
– I always pack a special drink and snack when we are out on the boat. Something that Aidan only gets when we go fishing (ours happens to be a Frappuccino and powdered doughnuts). If we don’t catch any fish he is still happy because he is hopped up on caffeine and sugar!
Again, these are just some of the things I teach Aidan and are only suggestions. Cater your practice time to your child’s personality and what works best for you. The goal is to help them build their fishing skills, confidence and have fun! Until next time stay focused, fish hard and I’ll see you on the water.
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