Early summer, with its cool mornings and blossom-scented breezes, evokes powerful memories of lazy days strung together into endless summers. For many, those memories include fishing.
It is natural to want to make similar memories with children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Here are 10 tips that will enable you to make sure your fishing trip is a success:
1. Consider comfort - Fishing with kids requires slightly different supplies and equipment than adult trips. A youngster who is hungry or uncomfortable won't have the patience to fish, so bring snacks, drinks and lawn chairs for them.
2. Stack the deck - Children quickly lose interest if they don't get lots of bites. Younger children don't care how big the fish are, as long as they catch lots of them. Before your trip, check with a trusted local angler or pre-fish the chosen area to be sure the fish are there and biting.
3. Forget about fishing yourself - Beginning anglers require lots of attention. You are likely to have your hands full untangling knots, rebaiting hooks, unhooking fish and offering advice about how to cast, where to cast and when to reel in fish.
4. Take identical fishing poles - You can hold one and pretend to fish while standing near your young companion. When they snag a log or get their line tangled, hand them your rod and let them keep fishing while you take care of the problem.
5. Cheat - If you do hook a fish, quickly release the line and pretend something is wrong with your child's gear. Trade rods and act surprised when they discover they have a fish on.
6. Use bait - Casting is the most difficult fishing skill to learn. Fishing with spinners, crankbaits and other artificial lures that require continuous casting and retrieving can be extremely frustrating and tiring for new anglers. Worms, minnows and doughbait are a much better choice.
7. Keep gear simple - Don't try to turn your youthful charge into a pro the first time out by saddling them with equipment they can't handle. Tie a No. 8 or smaller hook on the end of the line, clip on one or two split-shot six inches above the hook, and add a small bobber just far enough up the line to keep the bait off the bottom.
8. Go where the action is - If you don't catch a fish in 15 minutes, move to another spot. Try casting your bait to a different spot first. Cast close to shore and out in open water, in the shade and in the sun, next to trees and next to water plants. The fish have to be somewhere! If that doesn't work, move to a different area of the pond or lake.
9. Use a net - A small, inexpensive landing net will reduce the number of fish that get loose at the last moment. Besides cutting down on disappointment, a net can be used to catch frogs and other critters when the fishing is slow.
10. Stop and smell the roses - Children are not as goal-oriented as adults. They instinctively pursue whatever is most interesting at the moment. Therefore, take time to catch frogs, explore a spring branch or wonder at the beauty of a butterfly. The goal is to have fun. If they do, they will want to go again and again, regardless how many fish they caught.