“Grandpa, I’ve got a fish,” said five-year-old Blake Chimmy, his voice high with excitement. He grinned from ear to ear and cranked the reel handle as fast as he could. “Already – you just put your hook in the water,” said Grandpa Joe Spizzirri.
When Grandpa Joe removed the bluegill and added a little fresh worm to the hook, the bobber went under again within seconds. This process went on for almost two hours, with Blake counting each fish. “That makes two,” or “That makes three,” he would announce loudly and proudly.
Grandpa Joe was so busy he had no time to fish but it was apparent to the most casual observer that he was also having a good time. It was Father’s Day weekend and a perfect way to spend time with a youngster. The afternoon catch was especially gratifying since the bluegill had lockjaw two days previously.
Youngsters like excitement and action, and for some catching bluegill can top the list.
Here are some tips from the folks at www.takemefishing.org, a part of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), which should help introduce a youngster to fishing.
Even a five-year-old wants to be included in the whole process of fishing, and that creates an opportunity to instill some responsibility in your children. Depending on their age, give them small responsibilities, such as ensuring the covers for bait containers are in place, nightcrawlers are covered and cool, or the minnow bucket aerators are running.
Use the time to create lifelong family memories by recording each event with a still or movie camera but keep the outings short and end the activity at the first sign of boredom. Sometimes it helps to let youngsters invite a friend or favorite relative along to share in the fun.
They should ‘see’ their surroundings also, like the birds, animals, trees and fauna but teach them in small doses, young minds have short attention spans for anything that interferes with hungry fish.
Keep their tackle simple, a small spin casting rod and reel combo is usually easier for kids to master. Zebco’s SpongeBob Squarepants Rod and Reel Combo for Kids, available at www.basspro.com or other local retailers, sells for under $15 and is an excellent choice.
For bluegill, small long-shanked hooks, size 10 or 12, are easiest to remove from a bluegill’s tiny mouth. Sometimes, because of the bluegill’s small mouth, a hook remover like forceps or Rapala’s 6 Inch Hook Remover is necessary to keep from injuring the fish too badly.
Small diameter slip float bobbers and stoppers reduce the amount of line needed at the end of the rod and are easier to cast, and properly weighted slim floats are easier for a bluegill to pull under the water. The bobber should float upright, barely on top of the water. Squeeze small BB-sized split shot sinkers onto the line one at a time until the bobber nearly sinks from the weight.
Bait the hook with a small piece of nightcrawler or Berkley’s Gulp Alive Cricket, cast the rig to a likely spot, and enjoy the action.
Blake Chimmy caught 15 bluegills and one small bass that afternoon, all returned to the water. When asked how he caught his fish, Blake replied, “Grandpa put some worm on the hook and I pressed the button to make the worm go down to the fish. Then I reeled the fish in.”
It sounds like he had fun, I know his grandfather and great-granddad did.