Take a Kid Fishing

In part one of a two-part series life-long fisherman Nat Bromhead takes a look at the importance of introducing juniors to fishing. Speaking to a range of fishing addicts including a dad, a man whos taught the sport to thousands and an 11-year-old, we look at where it all began and how kids can get the best from the sport. “I’ve been fishing since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.” Yep, we’ve heard the line 100 times before, so often it’s taken for granted and become cliche.
Nat Bromhead Image (5 of 75)

Two kids making the most of a sensational sunset in the best way possible, fishing.

But speak to anybody who has been fishing as long as they remember and you’ll quickly discover a common denominator. Fishing will be close to their hearts. It will be part of their life and in many cases will have shaped them into the person they are today. Fishing is many things to many people. It can be a form of relaxation, meditation or stress relief. To some the tug on the end of a line is more a disturbance rather than an action in need of a response with any sort of urgency. To many others the sport quickly becomes an obsession, an adrenaline rush, completely competitive and an endless path towards perfection. An occasional hobby can easily go full circle and indeed make fishing a stressful but rewarding exercise for some – think of the big-money bass events in Australia and overseas. More often than not it is not taken that far. Enthusiasm will naturally wax and wane as the years pass by, the one constant being a love of fishing will generally remain. Regardless of age that flicker of passion will never dim. But where did it ignite in the first place?

Like father like sons

Dave Bradley, a professional fishing guide based in Hinchinbrook, Far North Queensland, spends up to 250 days a year on the water with clients from Australia and around the world. So what does he do when a rare day off rolls around? Takes his kids fishing of course. Now aged 6 and 8, Alex & Jake were introduced to the sport from a young age. “As infants the boys would sit and watch tarpon fishing videos with me,” Dave said.
Small tuna - the perfect blue water spices for junior anglers to hone their skills on.

Small tuna – the perfect blue water spices for junior anglers to hone their skills on.

“Combine that with dad going fishing every day they didn’t have much chance. Dave said when planning an outing it’s important to pack lots of food and things to keep the kids entertained and get them out there to show them what its all about. According to Dave small rods and a lot of little fish are the best way to start. “Kids just want to see fish” he said. “They don’t really care what type of fish they are. “As they get older you can plan more serious trips of a few hours, teaching them how to cast and retrieve and watch them catch their own fish or at least keep yourself out of harms way from flying hooks. It sure is very rewarding.” Dave’s boys are always keen to get out for a fish. Whether it’s the boat, local jetty, off the beach or riverbank, they are always learning and most of all, having fun.

9000 mad-keen junior anglers

Not just for boys. Lance Murray says in many cases young girls enjoy their fishing even more than the boys do.

Not just for boys. Lance Murray says in many cases young girls enjoy their fishing even more than the boys do.

The man you’re about to meet has done more for angler development in Central Queensland than most. Mackay-based angler Lance Murray is has been involved in junior angler education for as long as he can remember. As President of the Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance, Lance and his fellow volunteers coordinate a range of fishing related activities for the region’s youth. For the past 16-years the group has held its annual ‘Take a Kid Fishing Day’, an exciting event that draws up to 200 kids to Mackay’s Shoal Point for a day of outdoor action. Then there’s the Mackay Junior Angler Fishing Competition held in the confines of the town’s Pioneer River. This year’s event boasted 181 entrants with local business’s putting up more than $4000 of prize money. But the program Lance is most proud of, one that has taken fishing to thousands, is the Mackay Schoolfish Program. “This school-based program has been going for more than a decade now,” said Lance. “We are up to something like 9000 students – it’s been wonderful to see so many develop the skills and a love of the sport.” Explaining the importance of fishing, Lance said today’s children were living in a far different world to the one he knew.
Shoal Point on TAKFD 2012

Kids at the hugely popular ‘Take a Kid Fishing Day’ in Mackay.

“Kids these days are not living in the 1960s or 70s like we were,” he said. “You don’t see them outside anymore. They are all sitting inside, playing with an electronic device or on the computer. “But we get them out and teach some life skills,” Not confined to a ‘boys own’ club, Lance said just as many young girls are involved in the learn to fish program. “The girls seem to enjoy fishing even more than the boys,” he said. “And they’re no slouches, not at all, not when it comes to catching fish.”

Part of the school curriculum

Mercy College  student  Bailey Dunbar proudly shows off the flathead  he caught at Dunrock during a school fish excursion being hosted by Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance.

Mercy College student Bailey Dunbar proudly shows off the flathead he caught at Dunrock during a school fish excursion being hosted by Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance.

Held during school hours, the 3-day courses cater for kids from 8 to 14 years with some of the region’s schools incorporating the work into the subject of marine studies. “We teach them personal responsibilities, why there are bag limits and at the crucial need for bag limits,” Lance explained. “We talk about personal safety and tell kids they are dealing with hooks and sinkers. We discuss environmental responsibilities and give them an overview of fishing regulations as well as green zones, yellow zones and why these have been established.” He said the kids were also offered the more advanced lessons of fly fishing and how to throw a cast net with many quickly learning the skills. The rewards, Lance said, are many – the biggest being the joy on a youngsters face when a fish is caught. “Last week a kid got a nice flathead. Then there was another who caught a little toad fish about 4 inches long. Yes a toad fish! But I’ve never seen a kid so excited in my life – it was magic. About an hour later he caught a gar and came running up and I’ve never seen a bigger grin.” Reflecting upon his own distant youth, Lance said children never forget their first fish. “I can remember where I caught my first fish and who I was with – and that was 50 or 60 years ago,” he said. “Every one of them can remember, it stays with them for life.” Teaching the finer skills of fishing to so many juniors, Lance said there was one unfortunate theme that shone through. “I hear a lot of kids saying their dad loves fishing, but only fishes with his mates,” he said. “Some of these poor kids are lost. They all love fishing but their dads prefer to go with their mates. “I think some of these parents should be more involved with their kids and take them fishing more often.” It is the perfect way to spend time together, to communicate and connect, he said. “It really is a wonderful family activity.”

 From a kids’ perspective

Yannick Marot is a keen young fisher who loves nothing more than time on the jetty or out in the family boat.

Yannick Marot is a keen young fisher who loves nothing more than time on the jetty or out in the family boat.

Eleven-year-old angler Yannick Marot loves nothing more than fishing from his local jetty or out on the family tinny.His earliest fishing memories stem from age 4, when living on the exotic island paradise of Mauritius. Moving to Australia and living in Queensland’s magnificent Whitsunday region, he was quick to meet new fishing mates. “One of the first I caught in Queensland was a barramundi,” said the grinning young angler. “It was very exciting – we stood at the front of the boat and had to pull it in. “It was my first time catching a barramundi so it was a very good opportunity for me.” “I really liked reef fishing there as well. My friends and I caught trevally, coral trout and some reef fish.” Asked what he wants to catch in the future Yannick was quick to respond. “I want to hook a groper and go for hard fish that lots of people can’t catch – like marlin,” “I also want to get a shark. They would probably be quite hard to catch. But if I caught a shark I would get a picture of it and then put it back.” Asked why he would release it he said while he would like to know its length, he wouldn’t want to kill it. “I think people should put some fish back. But not all of them, not the tasty eating ones,” he said. In part two of this article on Kaydo Fishing World next month we will look at the finer points of taking a kid fishing. Focusing on the three certainties that come with any trip when fishing with juniors. They are Im bored, Why arent the fish bitingand Im Hungry.
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.

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