Captain's Column

Introduction to Fishing: Captain’s Column (6.30.16)
By angelamontana


The fourth of July weekend probably begins Friday for some and will extend into a long weekend for others as this year the 4th is on a Monday. It is the time of the year that families enjoy time together in the Montana outdoors camping, exploring, fishing, and relaxing. Many parents of young children have an urge this time of the year to introduce their kids to the sport of fishing. They want to take their kids fishing but some struggle with the task because they either don’t fish themselves or if they do fish, they want to make sure the fish are biting to ensure that their child has a good time. Getting your child started in fishing will be an activity that will enable you to share time with your kid and better yet it is an activity that they can enjoy by themselves or with one of their friends.

My good friend Les Rutledge who calls himself “The Fish Guy” has been teaching a class in area schools that is called Hooked on Fishing. In this class, Rutledge goes to each school and begins by teaching the kids about the habitat that the fish live in as well as the basics of how to get started fishing. The final class is a field trip to Frenchtown Pond and the kids get to apply what they learned into actually fishing and trying to catch a fish. If your child was one of those kids then you probably have already been asked to go fishing. If your child has not been introduced to fishing then maybe the following tips might help you in your first fishing outing.

  • Use live bait to increase the chances of catching fish. While catching a fish isn’t the end all to fishing it certainly gets the attention of the youngster so he or she will want to come back for more. Make sure that you show how to apply the bait to the hook and explain that hooks need to be handled with care. It also is a good idea to make all the hooks that your child will use barbless, by snipping off the barb.
  • Spend shorter times on the water than you would normally fishing depending on the age and attention span of your child. Most experts recommend 1-2 hour time spans.
  • When you are fishing it is important to focus your attention on making the fishing time enjoyable for your kid. For example if you have a live well that you put your caught fish into don’t be surprised if your child spends more time playing with the fish that are in the live well rather than fishing to catch more.
  • Take lots of pictures
  • Bring sunscreen, insect repellent and first aid basics.
  • Fishing tackle should be simple. Make sure the reel is something that your kid can easily use. A Zebco reel set-up is kid friendly.
  •  Practice casting in an open field or yard using a casting plug beforehand. Plastic or rubber casting plugs are often included with most rod and reel combos. The practice casting plugs don’t have hooks and work great in an empty field or open backyard area.

Perch are a fun fish for kids to catch and in the summer perch tend to spend time around and beneath docks in some lakes. They are also sometimes easier to catch because they tend to school up so if you catch one you will catch many.

So this weekend take the advice of the Fish Guy and take a kid fishing on a river bank, lake shore, or boat and have a Happy and safe 4th of July!

(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)