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  • Writer's pictureDustin

Why Take Kids Fishing?

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

When was your very first memory of fishing? If you close your eyes and try to search your brain for the very first thing you ever remember that involved catching a fish, what was it, and how did it make you feel? (Comment Below!)

My story started with my dad and grandpas on the shores of Lake Erie. I was young enough to think that a pier on Lake Erie overlooked an ocean, and a ten-inch perch was a giant fish. Proudly brandishing a light blue mickey mouse zebco style kids’ pole (which I still have in my garage to this day), my brother and I fished with live bait for perch and really anything that would bite. I remember thinking of how far down the water was from where we were standing on the pier and being a little scared of falling into the water. In my defense, at that point in my life, the fall would have probably been twice or three times my height. However, going back as an adult to fish the fall nighttime walleye bite I realized the pier is really only two to four feet above the water level. The perch I caught seemed massive. It was almost half the length of my arm. I don’t really remember the bite or the fight, I just remember holding the pole with the fish dangling and seeing the “ocean” in the background.

Learning how to catch fish with grandpa
Catching Fish with Grandpa at the Cottage

The seed was planted. Fishing has always had a place in my life, but it was a smaller part of my youth compared to the level of passion I live with today. However, my memories of both my dad’s and uncles’ boats were laced with engine stalls, the two-stroke hand-mixed fuel smells, and sights of rolling waves that to this day make me smile and wish I was back on the water with a rod and reel in my hand.

Each fishing expedition was both a learning and social experience and both family and friends joined for the fun. The targeted species changed as I grew older and more experienced. As a kid, panfish, catfish, and bait fishing were par for the course. After college, bass fishing engulfed my brain. Do you know that picture that has littered the internet in all fishing circles for the better part of two decades where there is a fish skeleton living inside an x-ray of a human skull? Yeah, that was me for about ten years. I started learning how to use a baitcaster after watching KVD (not Karl, but the great Kevin Van Dam) win his Bassmaster classic in Louisiana while I was in anesthesia school. From there I went on to join a bass club, fish tournaments both locally and through the BFL, and attempt to learn every aspect of bass fishing that was known to mankind. Eventually, the fever subsided when I caught my first muskie.

After years of adding more species and techniques to my repertoire, I can honestly say that today I truly enjoy multispecies fishing. I look forward to the changing of the seasons and the different adventures that correspond to each specific time of the year. From trout streams to ice holes, to prop wash, to river runs, there really is no such thing as an offseason anymore. Until you have kids. Kids change everything, and I mean literally everything.

I don’t know what it is like to have one child. My wife and I struggled with fertility for three years before we got pregnant. Then we found out at our first ultrasound there were two heartbeats. Fast forward nine months, and you have a new dad about to get batman face slapped by life. I remember thinking, “I will still be able to fish once the kids are born, it won’t be that bad.” I was an idiot. There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for the zombie state you exist in for six to twelve months. I could have fallen asleep anywhere at any moment for almost a year. I actually did fall asleep in the chair while getting my first haircut after the twins were born (my hairdresser still gets a laugh out of it). I was so grateful and thankful to be a Dad, but also so drained at the same time.

Once the dust settles, you can start to dream about sharing your passions with your children. Unless you have more children (happy accident eighteen months later). So, for those of you keeping score at home, that equals three boys under the age of two years old at the same time. It was a circus, it still is a circus, but it’s my circus, and I love it. When my third was born, I really was anxiously waiting to get my boys out on the water with a rod in their hand.

In fact, I spent a lot of daddy days trying to think of ways to naturally lead them towards fishing. For example, toy fishing poles for the bathtub or playroom, and any children’s fishing books I could find. At the time my search for a fishing book was not great so I decided to write and illustrate my own. This kept my mind “fishing” while I couldn’t be on the water.

If you want to check out the book you can do so through Amazon or Barnes and Noble by the title of “Dad’s Favorite Fish.” The boys loved reading it and still do today. The smile I got from watching them laugh with that book really opened my eyes to a whole new level of enjoyment of the outdoors. I had no idea just how powerful and amazing it was to experience the joy my child felt from the act of me sharing my passion of the outdoors with them.

The “why” became clear. The “why” became simple: I wanted to put the same smile on my boys’ faces that I had when I stood dangling my perch on the shores of Lake Erie. I wanted them to appreciate and enjoy the wonder of the outdoors. I wanted to pass on my passion, my traditions, and I wanted to cherish every minute with them doing something I grew up sharing with my family and friends.

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