Teaching children to fish is one of the joys of being an older fisher – grandfathers and great grandfathers. Over the spring break I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my great grandchildren, Cody Steeves, who I was teaching to tie flies.
This is the second session we have had on the fly tying bench. During spring break we were tying flies with the intent of Cody fishing with flies he tied. We were tying simple patterns such as woolly worms. Cody is just past 10 years of age and ties an acceptable fly. Over a three-day period we spent two days tying flies and some coaching on how to fish with a fly reel as opposed to a spinning outfit. The third day we spent fishing on Spider Lake.
Pictured with the column is a photograph of Cody holding up a trout he elected to keep. During the course of the day we kept three trout and released two others and lost the one that created a fish story. We also had plenty of action with fish biting the flies and not getting hooked.
It was one of those fishing trips where grampa was the Gilly and Cody was the angler who played and lost or brought to the net, all the fish. When we left his home we promised to bring fresh trout home for supper, which is a popular treat in this family. We accomplished our goal with three prime trout that were adequate for the family meal.
We were trolling flies from my small fly fishing punt. It is crowded with an old man and a small 10-year-old future fly fisher. In retrospect I am not certain I would promote this type of fly fishing unless there was an ongoing bite of trout that made for continuous action.
One of the draw backs of fishing from small fly fishing punts is that there is no space to move around, and any fly casting that is done is from a sitting position.
Fly fishing with floats on spinning outfits from shore locations, beaver dams, or small streams may be another way of introducing young anglers into the mysteries of fly fishing, while at the same time they can be active and move about.
Children certainly vary in their attention spans, but if you are fishing with children new to fishing, or not used to concentration of a rod or lure, you should have other suitable diversions to add change to the day’s activities. Simple camp fires where suitable, plenty of food snacks and treats are good ways to break what may become a boring challenge of watching a strike indicator waiting for fish to bite the fly or bait.
One of the challenges of all fishing is keeping your catch fresh after you have caught it and decided to take it home. In order to keep fish in a fresh, firm condition after they are killed it is essential to clean and bleed the fish as soon as possible after killing it. Then remove the guts.
This part of the fishing trip involves some blood and may be a problem for the child to witness. It is also a teachable moment to tell the child that before any meat such as chicken or fish is ready to eat, it must be cleaned.
Another important part of the fresh fish process is to put the fish on ice to keep it cool. I am aware this is counter to many catch-and-release fishing shows on TV, but it is important for the child to learn where food comes from – and it is not from catch-and-release programs on Bass and Pike.
Teaching a child to fish is part of the real world.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.