Articles in the Category Fishing With Kids

Fishing With Kids — Connections

All my life, I’ve walked the woods and water and thought of trout. That’s what tied me to these wild rivers and to nature itself.

But I’ve learned something about Aiden this summer . . .

What draws him to nature and connects him is the identification of living things. He’s an explorer, digging with his small, dirty hands to catch a frog or build a rock dam. And he has the best pair of eyes I’ve ever been around. If you’re looking for something, tell Aiden. He’ll probably find it.

His attention to all of the living things that surround us out there is contagious. And that is the base of his connection to the woods and the water . . .

Surf and Salt — LBI, Summer 2019

Follow-ups are tough. That’s what I told the boys as we prepared for this year’s family beach vacation. The sequel to last summer, I assured them, would host its own wonders. Wishing too hard for a perfect repeat might get in the way of enjoying the new moments — the unexpected things. That’s a good lesson for young boys. It’s a good lesson for anyone.

This year, when we raised the garage door of our new beach home for the week, the boys flew up four flights of stairs. And it was immediately clear that this house, with a huge kitchen and bedrooms to spare, with its endless decks and terraces, would be the feature of the week.

Having that kind of space and such comforts changes things. I think we all sunk in and relaxed in a way that we hadn’t for a long time. No Little League games, no school, no work or business calls. We took a vacation the way it’s supposed to be. And I saw each of us unwind. We settled in easily. We rested.

The boys found their own avenues of enjoyment. They discovered routines that suited each of them. We walked a lot, road bikes, explored the island, spent loads of time on the beach . . . and we fished . . .

Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

All of our favorite rivers were high, but clearing. Joey is ten years old now, so he knows the drill. We fish, because trout like water. And it’s the water clarity that matters, not the flow so much. We find wadeable pieces of river in almost any conditions, as long as the river isn’t the thin, brown color of Yoo Hoo.

Last weekend, sandwiched between two big days of baseball games and long team practices, we short-planned some time on the water together.

It was a trip to remember . . .

Fishing With Kids — If you fall, get up

“How long have they been fishing with you?” he hollered. The old man leaned over the wooden railing of the walking bridge and gestured toward my sons who were wading upstream. As Joey fished some thin pocket water in the shade, Aiden searched the shallows for anything unusual to add to his daily rock collection. The sun-drenched day was warm enough for wet wading, and the boys had been out with me for about an hour.

I waded downstream and stopped under the walking bridge to visit with the stranger. We watched my sons and chatted for a while. He told me stories about his childhood in Connecticut, of rivers and rope swings and cheap fishing gear. When Aiden turned downstream to hold up a new prize, and when Joey yelled down that he just missed one, the stranger and I waved back and replied with a big thumbs up.

“So, really . . . how many years have they been fishing?” He asked again.

“Well,” I said. Aiden is six and Joey is eight. I think they both started casting fly rods around five, but they cast spinning rods a little earlier.”

I explained that, from the beginning, Going fishing with these kids was less about catching trout and more about taking an adventure together. What can we see today? What will we find? Those are the questions to focus on more, rather than, How many will we catch? . . .

Surf and Salt —  LBI, Summer 2019

Surf and Salt — LBI, Summer 2019

Follow-ups are tough. That’s what I told the boys as we prepared for this year’s family beach vacation. The sequel to last summer, I assured them, would host its own wonders. Wishing too hard for a perfect repeat might get in the way of enjoying the new moments — the unexpected things. That’s a good lesson for young boys. It’s a good lesson for anyone.

This year, when we raised the garage door of our new beach home for the week, the boys flew up four flights of stairs. And it was immediately clear that this house, with a huge kitchen and bedrooms to spare, with its endless decks and terraces, would be the feature of the week.

Having that kind of space and such comforts changes things. I think we all sunk in and relaxed in a way that we hadn’t for a long time. No Little League games, no school, no work or business calls. We took a vacation the way it’s supposed to be. And I saw each of us unwind. We settled in easily. We rested.

The boys found their own avenues of enjoyment. They discovered routines that suited each of them. We walked a lot, road bikes, explored the island, spent loads of time on the beach . . . and we fished . . .

Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

All of our favorite rivers were high, but clearing. Joey is ten years old now, so he knows the drill. We fish, because trout like water. And it’s the water clarity that matters, not the flow so much. We find wadeable pieces of river in almost any conditions, as long as the river isn’t the thin, brown color of Yoo Hoo.

Last weekend, sandwiched between two big days of baseball games and long team practices, we short-planned some time on the water together.

It was a trip to remember . . .

Fishing With Kids — If you fall, get up

Fishing With Kids — If you fall, get up

“How long have they been fishing with you?” he hollered. The old man leaned over the wooden railing of the walking bridge and gestured toward my sons who were wading upstream. As Joey fished some thin pocket water in the shade, Aiden searched the shallows for anything unusual to add to his daily rock collection. The sun-drenched day was warm enough for wet wading, and the boys had been out with me for about an hour.

I waded downstream and stopped under the walking bridge to visit with the stranger. We watched my sons and chatted for a while. He told me stories about his childhood in Connecticut, of rivers and rope swings and cheap fishing gear. When Aiden turned downstream to hold up a new prize, and when Joey yelled down that he just missed one, the stranger and I waved back and replied with a big thumbs up.

“So, really . . . how many years have they been fishing?” He asked again.

“Well,” I said. Aiden is six and Joey is eight. I think they both started casting fly rods around five, but they cast spinning rods a little earlier.”

I explained that, from the beginning, Going fishing with these kids was less about catching trout and more about taking an adventure together. What can we see today? What will we find? Those are the questions to focus on more, rather than, How many will we catch? . . .

Fishing With Kids — “Born to fish big”

Fishing With Kids — “Born to fish big”

Parenting is mostly guessing and then hoping you were right. My design all along has been to get the boys beside a river as often as possible.

Will they be fly fishermen at fifty? Will they take on fishing as a way of life? Will they need it as something to help them through difficult times? I don’t know. But I’m giving them that chance.

Joey waded through a knee-deep riffle, toward a bank side boulder that he’d never reached before. We’d fished for two hours with the fish count as zero as the skies unloaded a hard rain into the river. I waited underneath the half-shelter of a large sycamore and watched my son from twenty feet away . . .

Legendary

Legendary

Hours earlier . . .

I walked behind Dad to the river. I kept my head down through the steady morning rain, watching water drops grow on the brim of my hat and then fall in rhythm with each step forward. On a muddy side trail I followed Dad: my boot tracks into his, my wide and awkward gait to keep up, the sucking sound of mud and rubber separating with each step, and more water rushing in to fill the hole behind — then the splashing of my own half-sized boots into his full-sized tracks.

We walked until our path finally ended underneath a stand of spruce trees at the edge of the river. Dad looked back . . .

A Fish Out of Fresh Water

A Fish Out of Fresh Water

I’d been to LBI at least a dozen times but never cast a line into the salt. Sure, I found the prospect of hauling fish from the surf intriguing, but I suppose I’d always stopped at the reality checkpoint — I live five hours from the ocean, so how often can I really fish water with tides? And while most people enjoy dabbling in things once in awhile, that approach is really not my bag. A short run with something leaves too many questions wandering around and bumping against each other in my brain. And without returning for a follow up experience, the questions remain frustratingly unanswered. I’m a researcher at heart, and I want those answers.

But my two boys are old enough now to be researchers themselves. And once they knew we were traveling to LBI, New Jersey for vacation, they looked into where to fish, what to fish and how to catch the biggest fish in the sea.

We were casting bobbers into a pond with spinning tackle when Aiden first brought it up back in June.

“Hey Dad, when we’re at the beach, we have to buy squid and bunker. We need bigger hooks too, because these ones are too small.”

I perked up and turned toward the small raspy voice of my seven year old son.

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Even When it Rains

Even When it Rains

Sure, some guys say you’ll catch the river beast only in high water. And most general trout fishing books contain a section that puts a positive spin on high water, detailing tactics that are sure to fool trout even with a river in flood stage.

I used to go out in such conditions because I believed that stuff. I thought once I brushed up on my muddy water techniques I would land the biggest trout in the river.

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Boys and Dads

Boys and Dads

I opened my eyes to full daylight. And the first sound I heard was rain in the gutter behind the bedroom window. I’ve learned to gauge the amount of rainfall by the dripping sounds of water inside an aluminum tube. Without pulling the window blind, I understood that the storm was steady. Somehow, I also knew it would continue all day.

Down the hall and on my way to the coffee pot, my nine year old son caught up to me, and with his characteristic excitement for everything in life, he asked, “Dad, can we fish today?”

I have a self-imposed rule for parenting. There are three things I always say yes to: baseball, music and fishing. When either of my boys wants to throw a ball, strum a guitar or sling a fly rod, I do everything I can to make that happen . . .

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I want to, but I don’t want to

I want to, but I don’t want to

My favorite eight-year-old looked at me exasperated, with his signature furrowed brow and troubled eyes. He animated the short speech with both hands and turned up the volume on his words. “Well Dad, I want to, but I don’t want to.”  Ahhh yes. That’s my son, because I’ve felt like that my whole life.

His tortured answer was a reply to my easy question: “Should we fish today?” But life decisions are hard for a boy so full of ideas and new plans for each day. I know it. I feel it. I remember it.

At that age, I hadn’t yet learned about the bargains we make with time — that we may do this thing now and the other thing later, accepting that upon fruition the second thing may be only half as grand as we’d hoped, if only because it wasn’t done first. These decisions are desperate when you’re eight years old.

He’s stuck right in the middle of two eras — old enough that the adults aren’t regulating every facet of his life, and yet not quite adept at wielding the freedom of choice. It’s overwhelming sometimes. I see it. I get it. I remember it . . .

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The Kid

The Kid

My story, The Kid, is over at Hatch Magazine today.  Here are a couple excerpts... -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- ... The kid was ten years old and small for his age, but his legs were strong and he waded without fear. He fished hard. We shared a passion and a singular...

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Just Boys Fishin’

Just Boys Fishin’

Gonna let the pictures tell most of the story today. We've been enjoying the cooler weather in the last month or so, and the boys have been putting a twelve foot Tenkara rod to good use. My parents bought the rod for the boys' birthdays, and the length of the rod,...

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