Opening day of trout season (is there any other?) means many things to many people. To most, it means the official date set in their particular state when fishing for trout is permitted by law. To me, it signifies the first day I fish for trout in any particular year—period. That day might coincide with the “official” date—or it might not. It mostly depends upon the weather, because, I confess, I am what is known as a “fair weather fisherman.” Actually, that pretty much sums up my attitude about most outdoor activities. When I played golf, I made it a rule to never play when it was cold enough to require heat. Fishing gets a pass to a certain degree, because if I waited until the furnace shut off, I might never wet a line until May—and that would be a shame.
But there is another aspect of opening day that I would like to caution you about: children. Should you take them fishing on opening day? In a word: DON’T DO IT! (Okay, I lied; it was three words). But the admonishment is the same: Avoid opening day like the proverbial plague. There’s nothing worse than throwing a kid into that wild scene where grown men suffering from “cabin fever” act like idiots from a National Lampoon movie. If you’ve never witnessed such an event, it goes something like this. At precisely 8 AM (or at whatever hour your particular state has deemed appropriate for “the games” to begin) some idiot wearing a Smokey the Bear hat will blow a whistle, which is the official signal for hundreds of caffeine-fueled barbarians to rush simultaneously toward the exact same spot on the river or lake where the event is being held. Foul language and even an occasional fist fight are the rule, and it’s not unusual to see grown men reduced to tears when another fisherman beats them to their favorite spot. So, forget about taking your kid fishing on opening day, okay?
And while we’re at it, who says you should take them fishing for trout anyway? I tried that with my two sons, and the experience was so traumatic that, to this day, neither one ever fishes. So when, where, and for what species should you take your child fishing? For the “when,” see the opening paragraph of this post. Where? Try a local pond that is chock full of sunfish, perch, or other easily-caught fish (that’s the “what species” part). Be sure the water isn’t moving. It’s tough enough without having to worry about currents, undertows, etc. Once you’re there, use a cane pole or a simple spin-cast outfit that your kid can handle. Then, put a dough ball on the end of a large barbless hook (mash it down if you have to), add a giant-sized bobber that a kid can see, and let them have at it! And parents, please be sure that your child’s first experience includes catching fish (even if it means buying one and putting it on the end of their line). That pretty much sums up the basics. To learn more, buy my book: Gone Fishin’ with Kids (How to Take Your Kid Fishing and Still be Friends). Better yet, post your own personal experience in the comments section below, and I’ll send a free autographed copy to the writers of the three best (be sure to fill in your information when you post). I’ll email the winners for their names and addresses, and announce the winners names in a future blog post.