Lessons Learned Teaching Others to Fish

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by Rob Lever

The passion of fishing is one that is normally passed down from person to person. Days on the water generally mean learning experiences that cannot be replaced. Most of us have a bank of memories that all center on fishing with friends or family. I have found that one of the best ways to fuel my passion for fishing is to take others out on the water.

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This year I started “We Love to Fish”, and this has not only helped me share the sport I love with others, it has also done something else. It has taught me how to take a kid fishing and teach them how to fish.

Taking a kid fishing and sharing your passion of fishing can be hard work. Each trip serves as a learning experience for the next trip. I have found over the years that it is best to keep a short journal of each experience. This can help you remember how you can handle certain situations in the future.

A good tip for a successful trip is to first learn a little about your guest. Every kid is different, and it is good to know a little about their personality to be successful on the water. I like to talk to their parent to find out things like music preference, sports interests, and even favorite school subjects. The goal is to make your guest feel comfortable on the boat, and also to give you something to talk about when the fishing gets slow.

Tackle is also an important aspect of your day. It is always best to start with lures that are easy to cast and retrieve. Spinnerbaits, and grubs are great options. These two baits will generally catch fish, and also work as ways to keep your guest busy. Each cast has a way to bring the excitement of not knowing if a fish is going to nail your bait. Rod selection is also an easy choice. A light spinning rod with eight-pound-test monofilament is a good option, depending on where you are fishing. This rig has great castability and is easy to retrieve.

Many people ask me if I “still” fish with live bait during my trips. This can yield great results, but you have to make sure that your guest can be patient. After years of fishing, I still find it hard to sit in one place for a period of time. If your guest is the type that wants to sit and just enjoy the outdoors, then this could be a good option. It is always good to bring a couple of bobbers and shiners on your trip. Once you meet your guest you can decide if they can be patient enough. This is important because having some action, even if it’s not on your favorite artificial bait, will help make sure they enjoy fishing enough to do it again.

Don’t plan on this being a normal fishing day, and plan for ways to keep things fresh. A good way to take a mental break during your trip is to stop for lunch. I always pack a lunch and take the time to stop what I’m doing to eat. During lunch ask about the day and you can figure out if you need to change up what you’re doing. The plan for most of my trips is to start by trying to catch fish such as bass, or trout. But, if the day is going slow, and the targeted species is not cooperating, lunch is the perfect time to change things up and go for species such as crappie or sunfish. It is always good to have a backup plan.

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My biggest advice is to be honest with your guest. If you start your day by telling them they are going to catch big fish, this can be terrible. It is best to always say that you are going to do your best, and work for a great day. This doesn’t set the expectations too high. You are likely to have a disaster on your hands if you do not live up to your promise of big, or a lot of fish.

The goal is to keep your guest engaged for the whole day. Also if the day has started off good but dies down, know when to stop. The last thing your guest remembers is generally the thing that they think of going forward. It is always best to end your day before a bad experience can happen. Listen to your guest and you can generally tell when they have had enough.

Bringing someone out fishing is rewarding and should be about having fun. A little research can go a long way, and help with dealing with an off day on the water. These trips should be about your guest making memories, and future friends. Bring a camera to capture the day and do not be afraid to share your passion with others.

To learn more about my trips on the water visitwelovetofish.org.