By way of introduction, my name is Jim Robinson and I've been involved in outdoor activities of all types for most of my life. My fishing, backpacking and hunting experiences are cherished memories and make up some of the best times of my life, and I like to take time to get others outdoors as well.
Now is the time of year when we have a great opportunity to introduce others to fishing. Whether it's a child who needs the experience of starting early, or an adult who hasn't had a chance to feel the thrill of a tugging line, springtime is the best time to assure success. When you have an opportunity to make that introduction, keep in mind that a positive experience can make that person a fisherman for life, but a negative one might cause them to shy away from trying again. With that in mind, you'll need to make sure they're equipped for not only their fishing experience, but also the environment they're in.
When selecting a location for a first fishing experience, remember that smaller water is less intimidating, and often times gives a chance at encouragement by actually being able to see the fish. A farm pond, a small creek, or if at a lake, a smaller cove is a better location than the middle of a lake or a very fast river. A calm sunny morning might be the perfect way to begin a lifetime of passion in fishing. Insure that the newbie is dressed appropriately for the weather. Today's technical apparel is great around the water, with quick drying fabrics that will help in the event of an unfortunate spill. If you're in a boat, a youth life vest will help to provide a sense of security for a youngster.
The type of fishing can also have significant impact on the experience. Simple fishing with live bait might be just the thing for a youngster, but an adult might need a little more to make the experience seem more realistic. If using the live bait method, crickets cast under a bobber are a logical place to start, and if you are able to see some sign of fish in the water, kids really get a kick out of seeing the strike. All you'll need is a simple rod and reel. Most of us started with a Zebco 202
, and it's still a good place to start a youngster today. Sufix fishing line
is a great line to use on any reel regardless of type. Make sure you're ready to help with baiting the hook and removing the fish. Keep in mind that the novice will probably not understand what to do, so how you handle things might really make a difference. When my children were small and I was recounting a fishing outing, a much wiser older fellow told me, "Either you take a kid fishing, or you fish, but don't count on doing both". He was certainly right in the beginning. Investing time with kids when they're learning will give them the skills to feel more comfortable with handling things, and later will enable you to fish alongside them, able to help, but often not needed.
If you're going to help introduce an adult to fishing, you might need to up the experience a little. A better rod or reel, artificial lures rather than live bait and a more mature approach will be needed to create an environment geared towards continued interest. Remember that spincast reels
are about the easiest to use, and that spinning reels are simple as well. I wouldn't want for anyone's first experience to be with a baitcast reel, as it would just about guarantee they'll not want to try again. If you're going to use artificial lures, keep in mind that smaller lures will often catch more fish. In the beginning, catching any fish is exciting, so a lunker bass is a great bonus, but not necessary to catch the fever. Often times, quantity is more important to the beginner, so a small in-line spinner or crankbait might create bigger numbers of fish than a 10" worm or big bait. Keep in mind that the novice might also be intimidated if he's presented with expensive lures right away. If you hand someone a crankbait with the explanation that it cost $20, they're not likely to cast towards the structure that could help them succeed for fear of losing the lure. Floating crankbaits, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits are a little tougher to hang up and lose than some other lures. Soft plastics are inexpensive to replace and therefore less of a concern to lose to a beginner. We need to make some assurance that we don't present the sport as one that requires significant investment in order to participate. We know that you can spend as much as you want, but sometimes simple time on the water is more valuable than all our equipment.
I'd encourage everyone to take the time to introduce at least one new person fishing this spring. As conservationists, part of our responsibility to care for nature is to introduce more folks to our passions. It enables us to help others understand how what we do impacts nature, and how what they do can as well.