When I was a child, my all-time favorite thing to do was go fishing. There was nothing I loved
more than to sit out in a lake, or near a river or creek, and wait for my
line to tighten—for the fly to disappear, for the big one to strike.
The enjoyment came from the whole
experience: the beautiful surroundings, sitting next to my grandpa or my dad, the
peaceful waiting, the thrill of the catch. I loved every aspect of it. To this day, it remains one of my favorite
things to do, and I fish any chance I get. I am now trying to cultivate a love of this pastime in my son and
soon, my baby daughter.
Unless you are fishing at a hatchery or into a barrel, you
will not usually catch a fish immediately after casting the line. Sometimes you’ll wait 15 minutes, sometimes
half an hour, and sometimes you’ll spend the whole day without even a bite. In a time where instant gratification rules,
it’s nice to see children accepting and understanding that they can’t control
the outcome when it comes to nature. They can’t be all, “Where’s that app that gets
that fish on my hook?” And as great as it is to see their faces when their
patience pays off and they hook a fish, it’s just as nice to see them be OK with hearing, “Well, not today. Better
luck next time.”
2. It Teaches Nature Appreciation
Fishing spots—wherever they may be—are usually beautiful and, at the very least, quaint. As a child, I
found it very comforting to be in nature. I could do nothing but smile when I stood fishing, wildflowers and pine
trees surrounding me, sun reflecting off the water. And nature seems to happen all around you. Squirrels chase each other up trees, eagles
fly overhead and dragonflies hover around you. It’s a wonderland for children. I
learned to respect and love the outdoors. And being outdoors is good for any child.
3. It’s Quality Bonding Time
When you’re in the middle of a lake on a boat, or in the middle
of a forest by a river, you have relaxed, quiet time together and a perfect
opportunity to bond and communicate. Some of my most memorable moments with my
grandparents are on the bank of a river or at the end of the dock. My most special moments spent thus far with
my father are times spent fishing with him; and sometimes just standing next to him in
the river, casting our lines, not saying a word.
They learn that a combination of patience and reading the environment can pay off in the end.
4. It Teaches Kids to Problem-Solve
requires that you know your environment. You must learn what kind of flies or baitfish is on the water at that
time of day, and at that time of year. If
the fish aren’t biting, you must assess why. It was always fun for me to find out what kind of flies the fish were
going after and to learn to read the rise of a feeding fish. If that sounds geeky, well, I was.
5. It Teaches Conservation
Fishing of any kind gives you the opportunity to teach your
child about conservation. Teaching your
child about the concept of catch-and-release or only taking home what you will
eat helps them to understand the importance of ensuring a thriving population
of fish for future generations.
6. It Teaches Children to Be Present
You can’t help but feel alive and be present in the moment
when you are connecting with nature through fishing. It’s an invigorating, uplifting feeling, and
you find yourself observing everything around you and taking it all in. And when that babbling brook or the rushing
water of the river calls nature to be present in their junior bladders, hey—you’re in nature! Go for it, Daniel Boone. Now you’re really feeling alive.
7. It’s a Hobby You Can Continue to Enjoy With Them
can fish with your children until your teeth fall out, and then you can
continue to do so from the seat of your motorized Rascal. And then your children can pass down the
hobby to their children, and also, they can pass it down to their rascals. You can create a fishing companion in your
child and have common ground—a shared activity to enjoy for life.
8. It Teaches Diligence and Builds Confidence
Kids learn to not throw in the towel if they don’t get a bite or reel one in
the first day. They learn that a
combination of patience and reading the environment can pay off in the
end. From feeling the fish strike your line
to setting the hook and reeling the fighting fish in is a reward to being
patient, paying attention and setting things up correctly. High-five, nature!
Kids will learn to worm a hook and then to remove the hook
from the fish’s mouth. And during times
when you decide to keep and eat the fish, your kids will learn to clean the
fish. Sure, you may not need these
skills in everyday life, but it does put some dirt behind the ears.
Fishing is a beautifully innocent pastime, a wonderful family activity that will bring
everyone closer together. It’s a scene
right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, which is nice because, let’s face it,
sometimes life looks more Edvard Munch’s "Scream."