My three-year-old granddaughter Meredith was on the phone. “Grandpa, I want to go fishing.”
How old is old enough to learn to fish? Five? Six? What about a youngster that just turned three this spring?
Three is probably a little young I thought, but I didn’t want to tell Meredith she is too young. I knew her mother, daughter Michelle had prompted her. Michelle has always been an outdoors woman, plus she wants to keep the old man busy.
So, I told, Meredith, “Sure. That’s great. We’ll go sometime.” I figured she would forget about the request.
Then last week on my birthday, Michelle called and wanted to know what I was planning for the day. “Oh, not much. I don’t celebrate birthdays these days. Your Mom and I may go out and eat this evening,” was my response.
She said, “We’ll if we come up, Meredith wants to know if you will take her fishing?’ She wants to talk to you.
“Happy birthday Grandpa. Will you take me fishing?”
Of course, the answer was “Yes”.
I headed out to purchase some red worms for bait, and next rigged a rod and reel. For panfish, I use a spinning rod and reel with six-pound test line. Sometime with youngsters, I suggest starting the old-fashioned way with a cane pole. Yes, you still can buy them.
A cane pole is a good way to start, but probably not for a three-year-old. There is danger in trying to swing the pole and a line with a razor-sharp dangling hook.
I went to my rod-reel stash and selected a closed faced reel. (Actually, it is one my wife uses.) It is easy to use and there is much less chance of tangling the line. I had decided I would do the casting (training for that will come later), and Meredith would do the retrieving of the line by cranking the reel handle to bring in the line, weight, bobber, hook and bait.
When I opened the box of wiggling worms and showed them to Meredith, I got an “uh” and a funny look on her face.
After explaining that bluegill like eating worms, I threaded one onto the hook, and cast to a nearby pole sticking up where a dock once existed. Almost instantly, something pulled the red and yellow bobber beneath the surface.
“Wind,” I said exclaimed as I helped her hold the rod with one hand and wind the reel handle with the other. She excitedly turned the handle and slowly brought a struggling gill to the bank.
“I got one, I got one, Mommy, I got one.”
We caught another, put another worm on the hook, and then the fishing slowed.
“The fish aren’t biting,”, I explained. “Why do fish eat worms?”
“It’s just a food they like, but right now they aren’t hungry.”
“Why” was the response.
“Apparently, they just aren't hungry. Maybe they’re taking a rest.”
“I don’t know”
I had no answer for that one. But, I was having fun.
We continued to fish, casting to several different locations. About 15 minutes later, we caught two more.
Meredith touched the fish as I explained how their fins can hurt. She also eventually touched a worm.
It is important with youngsters to make fishing fun. Try for panfish, which are easier to catch than bass. Be patient and don’t make it a chore. And don’t get exercised when they decide they want to throw rocks and sticks into the water.
I was surprised with Meredith’s attention span. I think it was as long as mine.
It never is too soon to involve kids in the outdoors. Most enjoy it from the time they can walk, maybe sooner. Meredith and her younger sister, Allison when they were babies liked riding outside in the stoller. When they were upset, a trip outdoors seemed to sooth them.
So what age is old enough to learn to fish. It depends on the youngster, but it may be sooner than you think. It was in my case.