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Getting Kids Started Young

We all have that fond memory of our first fishing trips. Whether it was with dad, mom, grandpa, grandma, or other family and friends, we can remember what got us started in the sport. I recall my first trip when I was five, shore fishing with my dad and mom and two-year brother for bullheads on a small body of water near Lemmon, SD. While a junk fish, as a kid, I did not care. I just remember catching a bunch of fish on a worm, hook, and a bobber and having a good time.

I had been out fishing years before that of course (my mom says it was before I was a year old), but this is the earliest experience I remember. But what was important was that my folks, especially my dad, got us involved in fishing at a very early age. It is something that we were taught and now that I'm a dad, it's my turn to start getting my daughter into the sport, even though at the age of two now, she won't remember these trips. But they will be great memories to show her once she is a bigger and can remember past events much easier.

She has already been out several times of course over these past two years. Our first fishing trip was before she was two months old. Her pole in her stroller "caught" her first fish. Her first ice trip was this past March. We only caught one fish and she wanted nothing to do it! But she has gotten better now and even says bye bye to every fish we catch and release. We were able to get out again as a family recently and go after bluegills. Bluegills were probably the beginning fish for most of us since they do not require a lot of skill when using a hook and bobber. And we brought her new net that we had recently got for her.

When she would sit long enough, I would reel in the fish and she would try to get the fish in the net. When she was successful, she would squeal with delight! Before too long, she sat in my lap and I tried to show her how to cast and reel. During this training, she did manage to reel in her first fish with a little help and enjoyed petting the fish and looking at its color we said bye bye to it. These are such precious memories for us, and it will be fun showing her the pictures when she's a bit older.

The future of our sport is so dependent on us as anglers to pass down what we know and have learned to kids even if they are not our own. The ideas of conservation, sportsmanship, and appreciation for nature need to be taught to the next generation for our sport to continue to thrive. Without their involvement, who knows what could happen to that which we love now. We want them to enjoy what the sport has given to us, even when the fish are not biting. Just because we did not catch a fish does not mean we did not enjoy the time. These lessons need to be handed otherwise what we know will be forgotten. As anglers and outdoorsmen and women, what we teach the up and coming generation is probably our best legacy we can give them.

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