Catfishing: A Sport with a Passion for Kids
by Ron Presley
The key words are fun, simple, and educate.
It is a known characteristic of the sport of catfishing that family is often included on the shoreline and in the boat. Social media posts, tournament weigh-ins, and dockside conversations confirm the observations because they often include kids. Importantly, for the sport, it’s a very good thing. The catfish kids of today are the catfish leaders of tomorrow. Conservation issues, accessibility issues, and the general health of the sport will depend on how today’s catfish kids accept the sport and learn about it.
A survey of a few current leaders in the sport confirms the observation. They all recognize the importance of teaching kids about the popular pastime. They all emphasize the importance of doing it right. Their advice goes a long way toward having a successful outing with kids while developing catfish leadership for the future.
Tim “Doc” Lange
Doc’s passion for teaching others about the sport extends to teaching kids. He says it involves a large dose of tolerance, especially with the young ones.
“You have to be patient with them,” observed Lange. “And, you must be able to get them on a ton of fish to keep their attention. Put them on fish and you won’t have bored kids on your hands. If they are bored, then they won’t enjoy the time with you.”
“Before I fish with my grandkids, we always have a safety talk before we get on the boat. It’s a routine of mine. I let them help me with getting things ready and I let them reel in the fish. Now, as they have gotten older, they all are learning to net and hold the fish and remove the hooks. It’s a progression and kids learn fast.”
Muse would like to see more kids introduced to the sport. He sees it as a good thing for the sport, but also for the teacher.
“Start by teaching them the right way,” instructed Muse. “Pick times and places that almost guarantee success. Indulge their questions and reply with good answers. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. Let them actually catch the fish and praise them highly when they do things the right way. Having a child as a fishing partner now may provide a lifetime benefit for both you and the youth. You might just create a fishing partner for life.”
James “Big Cat” Patterson
When it comes to fishing with kids, Patterson encourages it, and offers a simple rule to improve the adventure.
“Fish for the child and not for yourself,” offered Patterson. “Use a lot of patience when fishing with children, and don’t keep them out all day unless they really want to stay.”
Zakk Royce offers some straight forward advice for fishing with kids. His advice will pave the way for them to enjoy the sport and stick with it. Part of your success will involve your own behavior.
“Set a good example, and take the time to actually teach them, from an early age, the correct way to do things on the water. Safety should be the number one factor at all times.”
Vicky agrees that kids are an important part of fishing’s future. She thinks fishing with kids should be both fun and educational.
“I think it’s important to get today’s youth involved in fishing and conservation. The kids are our future. Fishing with kids should be fun and at the same time educational. They should be taught the importance of respecting nature. Also, take plenty of food just in case they get hungry,” joked Vicky.
Jason and Daryl Masingale
Jason and Daryl approach fishing with kids from a conservation view point. They understand fully that the future of catfishing depends on the kids. They suggest that it should be simple and fun, and it doesn’t have to be chasing trophies.
“There has been many a fishing trip with kids that turned into a rock skipping contest,” stated Jason. “My point is that when we introduce them to the sport we should keep it fun and entertaining.”
“Kids are our future fishermen,” confirmed Daryl. “We need to introduce as many kids to fishing as possible. Keep it simple and keep it fun. Fishing for bluegill under a bobber is a guaranteed fun activity for any kid.”
Roy Harkness also recognizes the importance of today’s kids to the future of catfishing and to his own future enjoyment. Harkness is creating that possibility by taking his kids fishing now.
“I hope that someday my boys are helping me get in the boat, saying, ‘Come on dad, let’s go fishing.’ These little guys I take fishing today are critical to the continuation of the sport. We have to start teaching them young for them to understand, and there is no better way to teach or lead than by example.”
“The key when fishing with kids is to keep it fun and simple,” instructed Harkness. “I try to run smaller baits, to get more bites. I try to fish for numbers versus size. My kids love to catch fish. Every bite they will say, ‘Oh dad, this is the big one.’ Also, bring plenty of snacks. My boys can eat a grocery store when they are out there fishing.”
Souders cites introducing our youth to the sport as a key element in the future of the sport of catfishing. He says to make each trip with a child a trip they will remember.
“Be creative and let them have fun, advised Souders. “Fishing with kids should be fun. Don’t worry so much about catching fish. Worry more about just making it a fun experience. If you happen to catch fish, well that makes it even better!”
All of these responses from dedicated catfish anglers lead to the same general conclusion. Especially in their younger years, fishing with kids needs to be fun and administered with a dose of patience. Small panfish are a great way to start. They are abundant and easy to catch. They also put up a good fight on light tackle.
It also appears that our panel of catfish anglers want kids to learn by doing. Today’s kids are pampered, maybe a little too much and most spend way too much time at a keyboard and screen. Fishing and the outdoors provides a great substitute for the screen time.
They need to learn things the old fashion way—hands on. And, it doesn’t hurt to let them fail. Sometimes failure can be life’s great teacher. There is nothing wrong with learning from your own mistakes. Give them a hands-on experience when you take them fishing.
When the kids get older they can begin to grasp the importance of conservation and it is our responsibility to teach them. Being a good role model is the place to start. Practice selective harvest and CPR. Let them be involved with releasing the fish you don’t keep and tell them why you’re doing it.
Always keep them comfortable and know when to throw in the towel. Just keep it fun and simple and you just might create that experience that transforms them into the leaders that our sport needs in the future.