During my 51 years of life I have heard four little words asked time after time, each time there was a fishing trip involved. Normally these few words are being asked by some of the youngest members of our human race. It is often how you react to these words and what you do that decides whether or not these children end up spending a lifetime of fishing or if they go on to choose other hobbies. What are these words you ask? “Can I go too...” In my home it is just as common for me to hear another version of these four words, as my children know they are welcome to go fishing with me. It goes something like this, “Can Michael go too, or Joe Ben or Damien, or Keeley?” Then comes the other part of the can I go too: you have parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other family members asking you if their children can go fishing with you. Whenever this happens it should be taken as a compliment as these people are trusting and respecting you enough to allow you to take their children with you. Throughout the years I have had several hundred children in one of my boats fishing. I have had as many as 8 in my boat at once all under the age of ten! Often times several of these children were on thier very first fishing trip and were required to sit on the fish cooler right next to me. Once they show me that they can fish effectively and safely and don't need my help, they can fish from anywhere in the boat. I must say that 99.9% of the time I have spent fishing with children has been very rewarding for me as well as enjoyable. Often times we have contests, like a prize for the first fish, the biggest and the most fish or perhaps for whoever catches a certain number fish, like fish number 23. On one of these fish contests I observed one of my fishing partners using a tactic that was clearly against the Perkovich family fishing rules. This particular individual was leading the contest in our boat by 5 to 4 over the kid who was fishing closet to him. He then decided rather than try to catch fish number 6 he would play defense and try to prevent the other fisherman from being able to catch fish number 5!!!! I was at the rear of the boat watching as an ugly situation was developing and I was not too happy about it. I was hoping that the situation would take care of itself before I got involved. The first defensive tactic this boy made was casting from the front of the boat to behind the boat reeling in his line very slowly along the side of the boat making it impossible for anyone fishing on that side of the boat without crossing his line. The second defensive move he made was positioning himself in such a manner that his pole was directly over his competitors so he couldn't cast at all. The other boy asked him "What are you doing?" The Bible says we all have a conscience and I think it was at this point that the boy’s conscience got the best of him and helped him realize this was not his best behavior. You can use sporting events to help you enforce rules that are easily understood by everyone in the boat. I was all ready to throw the yellow flag (like in football) and once the cameras and viewing audience focused in on me I would proudly turn on my mike and make the announcement "UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT!" The penalty will be ten minutes in the penalty box (like in Hockey) from the time of the infraction. If a child is really unsafe or not listening to you, you can foul him out (like in basketball) and demand that he simply puts his pole down and really thinks about what he is doing. Be careful not to use the baseball thing where you pump your fist in an upward motion and say "You’re out of here”, especially if you’re in a boat! Anytime you deal with children you have to establish the fact that you’re in charge and that you’re responsible for their safety. Recently I had a conversation with a co-worker who told me that his dad always went fishing and never took him. He began to think that there was something wrong with him as he saw other dads taking their kids out fishing. Imagine the complex this young boy was developing and the lack of self-confidence he must have had in himself. I had another elderly man once tell me that his father hunted and fished all his life and all it meant to him was that it was just another time that dad was going to be gone as his dad never ever took either of his two sons out fishing or hunting. Seventy years later this man was still very bitter whenever someone mentioned going hunting or fishing. To me the real loser here was the father who selfishly missed out on the excitement and joys of seeing his sons catch their first fish or shoot that first rabbit. Yes, taking kids out every time can be a struggle but it has been a rewarding experience for me. The only thing I feel I have not been able to develop because of a boatload of kids is my flyfishing. I generally am too busy helping kids or simply don't have the room to flyfish. So until the kids get a little older and can run a boat safely by themselves my flyfishing will have to wait. Kids can really light up things and raise the excitement level in a boat or on shore to an all time high over most anything. On one occasion many years ago in Wisconsin I was dating a lady that had two small children. We were fishing along a small stream and I told her son Brad who was like 4 years old to go get me another nightcrawler from the bucket by his mom who was fishing with her daughter about 20 yards from us. I gave him a flat rock about 4 inches long that had a hollowed out spot right in the center. I thought it would be a good place to put the nightcrawler in and carry it back to me. Well apparently the rock was rather warm for the night crawler and he started crawling instantly to get away from the heat stored in that rock. I heard a blood-curdling scream STOP! STOP! STOP! from the small boy as the snake like creature got close to his hand. I quickly ran to him and picked up the nightcrawler from a very grateful and relieved little boy. Children the next time dad tries to leave the yard without taking you fishing do the same thing; Scream at the top of your voice STOP! STOP! STOP! If it works and you get to go fishing with dad it could prove to be very rewarding for both of you. If this method works you owe me one, however if you end up getting a spanking for scaring your dad half to death don't tell him I told you to do it! See you next week!
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