Afield with Friends: Teaching kids to fish
“Hey, Grandpa, it’s time to catch some trout.”
All of a sudden we wake up in the morning and discover, if we are fortunate, we are grandpas or grandmas.
If a grandparent is absent, then a good friend who is comfortable with kids and can recall when he or she was learning how to fool a trout would be a good plan.
Matching the fishing rod to the size and strength of the beginner should be No. 1 in your plan. It should have a soft tip and be on the ultra-light side.
Choosing a fishing rod for the beginner, and particularly for the young, angler is important. A light, 7- to 7 1/2-foot fly or spinning rod is perfect if your plans are to fish small streams like Muncy or Mill creeks or those with a lot of brush.
That way they can grow up with the sport as they get older and wiser — and with deeper pockets and the false impression that the more expensive rod will catch more fish.
It’s the same old story: “It’s the nut on the end of ‘the handle!’ “
Remember this: Kids and beginners like to catch fish, and it’s our job to help them in small ways.
As our very able fish commissioner John Arway says: “That’s one reason why we stock trout.”
Choose a style or technique of fishing that youth can master.
Normally in northcentral Pennsylvania water temperatures during the early season range in the 50s or even lower. The lower water temperatures are factors that force the fly fishermen — and grandpas — to chose a style or technique if they want to fool trout. A 7-foot rod with a soft tip is just about right for small streams where casts are normally close.
Taking the next step. When we find ourselves on large streams with deeper pools and swifter currents, special, longer, more powerful rods are necessary to get down where the large trout lie. My favorite is an 11-foot soft tip Sage 5-weight, specially built for No. 7 to 8 shot that can handle No. 2 size nymphs.
Although shorter rods lack the power, one of the most important factors is having complete control of the imitation, in this case, a worm or imitation drifting the same speed as the current.
After a short quarter cast upstream and keeping the rod tip high after casting upstream, you can control the drifting, offering as it passes downstream in front of you. We call that approach “high sticking” and it is used by many anglers when working a run where you know the trout are located.
Repeat that simple process, fishing the spots that stocked fish prefer like the smooth water next to a faster current (seams) or the quiet water below submerged rocks. We call that “reading the water.”
Target the stream that you plan to fish on opening day to match the abilities of your young students.
Sitting on the edge of a pond or nice pool loaded with fish is fun for kids. What a great opportunity to teach the value of using No. 8 barbless curved hooks that easily can be removed from the trout’s lip.
Anglers who prefer to fish large or medium-size streams are in for a special treat. Big Pine, Lycoming, Loyalsock and Muncy creeks all received a supply of golden rainbows that push 2 pounds and display fantastic color and brilliant lateral dorsal strips. They are great to photograph and if returned may be caught another day.