Taking a kid fishing is one of the most rewarding things that you could do as a guide. The look of wonder and the new adventures are something that they will never forget. Make it fun and do not make it all about just catching fish. Of course you will want to catch fish. If you didn’t then you probably should go hiking instead. Fishing with a kid is an opportunity to have more fun on the water as their expectations will not be as high and it may be a new experience for them. Don’t sweat the small stuff and make it a great experience and enjoy yourself.
Last year I took my brother and his two boys on a section of the Penobscot that is by far my favorite and has a healthy population of salmon throughout. I was confident in our chances and the overcast and slight drizzle only made for better fishing conditions. The only thing that I had to keep in mind was that these boys are very active and having them sitting in the canoe for hours could have been a huge issue. The salmon and bass were very cooperative on this day, so that was the least of my concerns. If the fishing is slow you need to have a back-up plan. Keeping trips to a shorter period of time may be a good idea if they are younger. The length of lunch should be kept to a minimum as well. On this day I wanted to cook up some deer steaks as these boys love venison. Lunch took a little too long and soon the boys were busy throwing rocks into the river. Lesson learned there.
By far the best moment of this trip was something that I didn’t even see, but definitely could hear. Alex had just landed a very nice smallmouth bass and Bennett wanted to hold it. The boys were sitting back to each other in the canoe and when Alex handed the bass to Bennett the fish tried to get away. That planned escape ended up hitting Bennett in the face twice with his large tail. It was a very audible slap. His father was roaring with laughter, which was enough for me to break out laughing. Of course Bennett took it in stride and was soon laughing along with the rest of us. The fish was released having shown his dislike for being caught in the first place.
You also have to remember each kid is different and what worked for one may not work for the other. That is why you need to figure out what would make them happy. When I took Carver out I was not sure what would make him happy. He just goes with the flow and this trip confirmed that. We were going after bass and we wanted to try out his new rod that we got him. When he lost a nice fish after he fought it briefly he only smiled and said that that was fun. He did not have to actually land the fish to have fun during the experience. As with any trip with a youngster be ready to answer questions. Carver was observing everything around him and some of the questions I had never been asked and I was impressed with his level of thoughtfulness. Taking kids fishing always seems to keep me on my toes.
If you have a kid that is young you need to be careful and plan accordingly. Jeff and I wanted to take his son out for his 5th birthday. The day we had in mind did not look good, but we were hopeful. Jeff did not tell Mason our plan so that if it continued to rain and remain blustery we could cancel the plans without him ever knowing. We also wanted to stay close to home just in case things went sideways. As the day progressed the afternoon looked like we would be able to get a few hours in so we made the decision to bring him out. It could not have worked out any better. As we trolled over a point in the lake we quickly had two brook trout on at the same time. There was a frantic rush about the boat while we tried to get Mason to reel in the fish with our assistance. I am sure that anyone that was near that lake could hear our laughter and excitement. Even though this trip was only two hours long Mason was left with some great memories. Sometimes it is not how long you are out on the water with them. It really depends on what you do with the time that you have with them.