Get youth hooked on fishing

Taking youth fishing starts with a few basic steps. Find out how, where and when, and then get out there and fish!

Get youth hooked on fishing

Spring has finally arrived in Michigan and summer is soon to be upon us. That means it’s fishing season! Michigan has a variety of opportunities for fishing including inland lakes, small ponds, streams, rivers and four of the five Great Lakes. This is a good time to introduce youth to the excitement of fishing and being outdoors.

Fishing license sales have declined in recent years as younger generations are less likely to pursue outdoor activities. Michigan DNR sponsors a free fishing weekend twice a year where all fees are waived (June 13-14, 2015, is the next free weekend). Taking youth on a fishing trip will add enjoyment and also help insure this important recreational activity is passed on to the next generation.

The necessities of fishing are very simple. All you need is a fishing pole equipped with line, hooks and some bait. When it comes to selecting a fishing pole, it is difficult to beat a push button spin cast combination for youth. The line doesn’t tangle often and it is easy to cast. A 6- or 8-pound test monofilament line is a good all-around choice. Hooks come is all shapes, sizes and even colors. A size eight hook is a wise choice as it will catch (hopefully) most species of fish. Bobbers, split shots and leaders are optional, but helpful to increase your chances of hooking a fish. When it comes to bait, it is difficult to beat worms. Red worms, night crawlers and beaver tails are all easily available and fish love them.

There are lots of other choices in regards to fishing poles, lures, baits, line and hooks. A person could spend a small fortune on fishing supplies, but keeping it simple to begin with and focusing on catching fish is key. That is the fun part!

Where and how to fish is key to being successful in catching fish. It can be very frustrating to spend lots of time in pursuit of fish only to be skunked! This can be discouraging and lead to not wanting to fish again. Time of day is important too. Best fishing is early morning and evening, although fish can be caught any time of day or night. It can be very relaxing to fish on a warm, sunny day, but these conditions do not lend well to catching fish. Think like a fish and then adjust your tactics.

Bass and bluegill are great choices to pursue with youth. They bite readily and put on a good fight for their size. There are plenty of small lakes and ponds with public access that offer good fishing. Some locations have fishing piers and docks to make fishing more accessible. Other species of fish such as walleye and northern pike are best sought after with a boat. Others like trout are caught in streams and creeks using waders. What you fish for will determine your tactics.

Be prepared for your trip with youth. Bring insect repellent, proper clothing and some snacks. Many fishing trips have been saved by keeping youth occupied with food! Sunscreen is also something not to be left at home. Also, know what you plan to do with your fish once you have made a catch. Cleaning, preparing and eating fish is another part of the adventure that is fun to involve youth. Fresh fish cooked in a variety of ways is a great compliment to your adventure. Michigan State University Extension provides ways to grill fish or can fish in addition to frying and baking. Catch and release is another option, but don’t forget the camera!

The thrill of watching youth catch fish is exciting. Not all time spent fishing involves catching. Take some time to share with youth the beauty of your location, talk about fish habitat and the importance of protecting these valuable resources. There are many other benefits to fishing other than the catching and eating part. After all, it is called fishing, not catching.

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