Oh, the memories of trolling for bass with my Dad!Nov 20, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
It's one of my fondest memories - early evening, all of my chores done, and my Dad saying, "Hey! You want to go fishing?" We'd hop into the boat, and he'd set me up with my own pole, and I'd let out that line, while he drove the boat. Trolling for the big one!
He'd even ask for my opinion where we should fish. I was probably not even close in my assessment of where the fish were, but after I caught one huge black bass, and he showed everyone at the resort my catch, I thought I was a natural fisherwoman.
My folks bought a resort at the Lake of the Ozarks when I was in first grade, and my sister was in kindergarten. My sister and I were tomboys, and fishing for crappie off the dock with our friends was the norm during the summer.
To this day, there is no fish that tastes better than a fried crappie.
Fishing requires a certain amount of patience, and a touch of luck. But, if you're fishing for bluegill, perch, sunfish, or over a large crappie bed, you can get positive reinforcement every ten minutes!
In Missouri, you must have a fishing license if you are over the age of 16, and under the age of 65. If you're visiting from another state, you can pick up a minimal license at WalMart, but make sure you stay legal. No fish is worth the fine if you're not licensed.
I started teaching my kids about fishing when they were 6 and 4. Pook will get his turn when he's older, but for now he's just a witness.
Grandma and Grandpa bought them a couple of Mickey Mouse basic rods and reels from WalMart for about $12, and they already had the lines in them. I loaded them up with small hooks (try to get the hooks that do NOT have the eagle claw - I'll explain later), and floaters, or bobbers, as we call them.
My folks have a covered dock, with two boat wells, only one of which is being used by a full-size boat. We've hauled in some pretty big catfish from that boat well, along with bluegill and perch, and each time, I have tried to let my kids turn them lose once I free the fish from the hook.
Only this summer have I let my oldest son try to bait his own hook. He's watched me for two years threading worms all the way up the hook, and he thinks he can do it just as well. He'll learn, the more he does it.
We chose to catch and release our fish, as none of us have cleaned a fish in over 15 years. It would be a waste of fish right now, and wouldn't be fair to my kids to kill all the fish around our dock, just to practice our filet technique.
This brings me to the reference I made about the hooks. I made the mistake of buying hooks with the little eagle claw on the end. This design is for "setting" the hook, so your fish doesn't get away. That's good on a fish that you're going to clean and eat, but in our case, we've found we've killed some fish because they swallow the hook, and it's impossible to get the hook out.
We keep a pair of needle-nose pliers handy (with a couple of floaters attached!), but in most cases, we end up cutting the line, and leaving the hook in the fish, so we don't kill it, trying to get the hook out.
It's traumatic for small children to see any animal die, and to witness the death of a fish that they just caught is no exception.
Our bait of choice is the huge night crawlers, that we can get at Wal Mart for about $2.50 a dozen. With the small hooks we use, we can pinch the worm in half, and end up with two dozen (child math!). This summer, we introduced stink bait, and blood meal, but all we caught with those was the StinkyHand fish, so I think until we get a fish bed established, we'll just stick with worms and grasshoppers.
I can't wait until next summer, when we can take the boys out fishing in the boat for the game fish like bass. The best times to catch them are early in the morning, or in the evening, and bug spray is a must.
This is such a nice way to bond with your kids, and reconnect with your parents - through fishing.
When my sister and I were growing up at our parent's family resort, the majority of the people who came down were people who came from the city for a whole week. They'd spend most of their trip fishing. As an adult, now I know why! It's relaxing, it's therapeutic, and it's calming.
If you don't live near a large fishing lake, like Taneycomo or Lake of the Ozarks, but you live near a stocked pond that's open to the public (there are a few near us in St. Louis), try one of these with your kids first. There are also trout farms and catfish farms that allow fishing with no limits, for a fee. These are a great place to start with your kids. Pack a lunch and a blanket, and be prepared for the biggest, brightest smile you've ever seen on your child. That's the best reward.
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