Take a kid fishing Part 2 – beating the blues

In part one of a two-part series life-long angling addict Nat Bromhead looked into the importance of introducing kids to the wonderful sport of fishing. In this instalment he turns the spotlight to the finer points of fishing with juniors.
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A young Sam Turner hooked up to a quality fish while fishing the waters around Haggerstone Island in Far North Queensland.

In my book Borumba Dam is one of my favourite fishing spots on Earth and it was there, while targeting saratoga one glorious weekend, the following tale took place. It was a two-day trip and we were fly fishing for wily, surface-cruising ’toga by day and eating and drinking by night. It was a simple but satisfying plan. Carting our own food and drink to eliminate trips back to town, my fishing buddy arrived with a carton of beer and at least 8 boxes of Arnott’s Shapes biscuits. “I see you like your Shapes,” I said on the Friday night. “Oh them,” he said with a laugh. “One pack’s for tonight, one for tomorrow morning, another for lunch, and one for dinner. Then there’s Sunday breakfast, Sunday lunch, Sunday arvo and a pack for the trip home.” We caught a stack of hard-fighting ‘toga over the weekend and I’ll never forget the hot bite at dawn on Sunday, but deadset Shapes were all he ate. What’s this got to do with taking your kids fishing you might ask. We’ve all heard it a hundred times before, twenty times a day when the kids are around, the dreaded “I’m hungry … what have we got to eat?”

Keeping the tin lidsfed, watered and happy

 Like my biscuit-loving mate, the average kid might dream of gorging on Shapes all day but give it 20 minutes and I guarantee you’ll hear the next two most dreaded words – “what else is there?” Keeping everyone happy whether you’re fishing, whether it’s from a jetty, beach or boat, it’s a good idea to have a simple but wide-range of the right food and drinks on hand.
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A selection of snacks to keep the kids fed, watered and happy while fishing.

There’s no need to spend a fortune on supplies but it’s always wise to have a variety of goods on hand and drip feed the juniors throughout the day. Muesli bars, chips, small packs of fruit and nut mix are great snacks to ‘graze on’, as are pieces of fruit or grapes, berries or easy-to-peel mandarins. More substantial meals such as pre-made sandwiches or pre-packed salads are also a good idea. It pays to keep all food in a cooler and a handy tip being to freeze a couple of 600ml water bottles the night before to A: keep lunch cool and B: provide a cool drinking water throughout the day. We’re talking kids here and all kids like treats. Without wanting to see the results of a full-on sugar hit on board a small boat, a sweet treat such as the odd lolly or chocolate will keep the sugar cravings at bay. Balance that with fruit and they should have the energy to fish all day. Humans, big and small, function and feel best on a full stomach. Food is a simple but very important part of a happy days fishing and an important consideration to make when planning a trip.

Im bored”

Keeping young minds occupied is critical in preventing those two words all parents and guardians dread …“I’m bored.” Involving kids in all aspects of the day on the water can go along way in helping prevent this. Teach them how to tie a variety of knots, get them to practice and perfect them then tell them there’s a test at 2pm with prize up for grabs. Ask them to try to invent their own knot then tie it three times. The key is to engage and get them interested in all aspects of the sport. Make them a part of the day, not just passengers aboard the boat. Teach kids about safe boating, which side to pass another vessel on or what port and starboard and green and red means. If the fishing is quiet make up a fishing quiz, offering points for every correct answer and a token prize for the winner. Keeping kids busy, involved and part of proceedings should in most cases also prevent boredom. If the action slows and kids appear to be getting restless take them for a quick spin in the boat. Go looking for dolphins, go ashore for an ice-cream or move to another spot. Making kids feel part of the action, teaching them along the way and keeping them involved will make for a happier, more harmonious day on the water.

The value of a backup plan

 Like us, fish don’t feed 24/7. Between tides, while waiting for the run to start or bites to come it can pay to have a few cards up your sleeve. It’s high-noon, top of the tide and the fish have gone off the bite. The afternoon’s big run-out tide all surely have the fish feeding and action going again. But that’s more than an hour away and the kids are getting restless. How about throwing the tube out the back of the boat for some series on-water action. Take a cruise over to an island or nearby beach for a change of scenery. Anchor your boat, wade ashore and walk up to that lighthouse on the hill, running an drilling down the sands hills on your way back.

Do you remember your first fishing rod?

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Fish on ! A junior angler hooked up on his first fly fishing rod.

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Success ! A long tail tuna – the perfect fish to keep a teenage fisher happy.

  Giving the kids their own fishing gear might seem like a simple act but is in fact something many anglers remember for life. Cleaning out the family shack late last year I came across one of my old cork hand lines. Complete with blue nylon line and a rusty hook pinned in its side, the sight of such a small and simple piece of fishing tackle bought many wonderful childhood memories flooding back. The bream off the jetty, the weird looking leather jackets, even the eels and occasional sea snake. Giving them their own rod, tackle box and gear is a great way to keep the young ones actively involved in the sport.

The most important factor

Finally, a word about safety. Compared to many other activities fishing is remarkably safe, that’s not to say it doesn’t have its dangers. Rock fishing, for example, has often been described as the nation’s most deadly sport – the rocks are certainly no place to ever take kids fishing. Piers, the local jetty, calm water beaches and boating on inshore waters are a lot safer given good conditions and a watchful eye on the weather. Regardless of where you fish, kids of all ages need your constant supervision. Teach them to always look behind before casting and the dangers associated with sharp hooks. Sunglasses should be worn by anglers of all ages – particularly kids. These will obviously help protect their eyes from the harsh sun plus any wayward lures, hooks or sinkers. When boat-based it’s critical they always wear a properly fitting life jacket and are constantly supervised. Most of all kids love to have fun. Do your best to make the day as memorable as possible and you’ll be sure they’ll want to go again and again, great for the kids and even better for you.
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Little kids don’t need to catch big fish to be happy. The main thing is to try your best to take them to locations that regularly produce fish small or large.

   
Nat Bromhead

About Nat Bromhead

Nat Bromhead’s fishing journey has come full circle over the course of his life. His father remains adamant that with assistance, a year-old Nat first wet a line while sitting a stroller perched upon Mackerel Beach on Sydney’s glorious Pittwater. An exciting fishing journey lay ahead - one that would include moving to Queensland as a teenager and ‘doing his time’ with lures and bait on the Sunshine Coast.

Previous Hot bites in cool weather
Next Part 2 The Tiwi Island Experience

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