Passionate anglers aren’t too hard to spot. They will fish just about anywhere, and when they feel that tug on the line, you’ll see their face light up with glee… but what about the rest of the world? What about those people who haven’t yet experienced the sheer joy that a first catch can bring? As advocates of the sport, we all should be encouraging as many newcomers to try fishing and do our best to get them excited about it.
If you want to share your passion with others, but need some tips on how to best introduce different demographics to fishing, these suggestions may help.
Teaching Kids to Fish
We can show the next generation of anglers how much fun fishing can be while encouraging safety and including interesting facts about nature.
- A first fishing trip for a potential pint-sized angler should be limited in time while including plenty of fun educational facts about nature or the surrounding eco-system. Kids generally have short attention spans, so you’ll need to think about how to keep active minds entertained in between bites. What types of birds are you noticing along your fishing route? Are there turtles? Can you see minnows or baitfish in the water?
- Find fun ways to encourage safety while fishing and boating. When kids come aboard my boat, I bring out the “magic bass cushion.” While this is simply a seat cushion that has a largemouth bass pattern on it, it helps a great deal when explaining the importance of staying seated while underway. When I talk about safety, I mention that the magic bass seat has been known to bring good luck to anglers who are patient and stay seated (it’s true). Kids love it and you’d be surprised how it helps them remember to stay seated!
- Use live bait. Live bait is almost always going to provide you with more action than artificial baits. Consistent action is the key to keeping kids engaged.
- Be patient. You might find that young anglers get more excited about touching the bait, learning how to measure fish, or asking questions about your fishing gear. That’s ok. If they have curiosity about anything pertaining to fishing, nurture it and turn it into a learning experience.
Teaching Women to Fish
Have a female friend who loves the outdoors? You may be able to get her excited about fishing by focusing on her strengths and connecting her with a group of lady anglers for support.
- Give positive reinforcement when it’s due. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve always been turned off by “preachy” angler types who focus on the one thing you did wrong instead of the things you did right. Or, the types that like to yell at someone while reeling in a fish, turning that person off from fishing entirely. Instead, let her know when she improves or makes a great cast, and tell her why it was good. If she can use improvement in an area, let her know that you have a helpful trick or tip to show her. When snags or errant casts happen, remind her that they happen to all anglers regardless of experience level.
- Get excited for her when she lands her first fish. This doesn’t just apply to women, but really applies to anyone who is learning how to fish. Excitement and enthusiasm is contagious, so when your female friend brings a fish to the net, cheer her on.
- Provide information in stages. In other words, don’t bombard her with a bunch of directions and techniques. Keep your guidance basic at first. Once she “graduates” from the basics, you can introduce another technique or two. For example, once she gets the hang of catching fish using live bait, you can encourage her to try using an artificial bait or lure.
- Plan group trips to different waterways. Based on my experience, women like to explore new places and spend time learning together as a group. Introduce her to other lady anglers so she has ongoing support and resources for questions.
Hopefully these tips will inspire and encourage you to take someone new fishing. After all, you might love fishing, but if you are more focused on filling your Instagram feed with selfies of you and your catches, you’re missing out on the opportunity to leave a legacy and create more meaningful relationships in the fishing community.
Let’s all roll out the fishing welcome mat and show the rest of the world how much fun fishing can really be.
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer and fishing guide who lives in Fort Myers, Florida. She is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA). Visit her personal blog and follow her on Twitter, you can also follow Debbie and see her catches within the Finygo app