Kids are always looking for an adventure. Fly fishing can be one of those adventures, but it takes time and patience. Is there a secret to get a kid hooked on fly fishing?
Jason Fleury is the owner of Trout Chasers in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, and has been taking his two daughters fishing for years. To watch the two together is mesmerizing. Patience, both for Jason and his daughter, is a key. But it didn’t happen overnight.
“It’s a lot of very short doses” Fleury explained. Trips to the river with his children are common. His oldest daughter Isabella says that her favorite part is being outdoors, but it is apparent that it also revolves around quality time with dad as well.
There are a few keys to teaching a kid to fish. First, you must remove any illusion that you are going to go out there and catch fish and focus on a positive experience.
“As parents, we get it in our head that we are going to make the best of this day and go out and catch a bunch of fish,” Fleury said. “Really what we want to do is start that fire,” Fleury continued.
But that fire must be started with a spark by just getting out and teaching what you know. There is always a little luck when it comes to catching a fish. Fleury explains that you can’t control everything.
“There are some things that you can control with the best of your ability, and then realize that it will take a little bit of luck for those things you can’t control to come into play,” Fleury said. Some of the controls may revolve around finding the right spot, the right time of day for the fish to bite, the right flies – you name it.
But showing kids where a fish may be in the water and showing them how to get that fly line to go where they want it are things that you have control over with the goal of making sure that they can have a good enough time they want to do it again. “It can be a lot of work and it can be a little frustrating,” Fleury said. “But you are out there to build a memory”
Kids (and some adults) don’t have a short attention span. You must have a plan B (or make it a plan A-1).
“With kids, that means make sure that you have the right snacks,” Fleury explained of his experience fishing with kids, whether his or teaching a young client. When it is one of your kids, you have options to make it more exciting. “Take them to the grocery store ahead of time so that they can pick out their snacks,” Fleury said.
It is really about the experience and building a memory. “I’ve been reminded multiple times that some of the best memories out there aren’t the times that the fishing is the best. The kid can have a great time,” Fleury explained. “That’s a great reminder that it's not just the fishing that we are out here for.
Fishing is only the vehicle for a much more important part of the process – bonding. Building memories. Sharing your knowledge with a kid, being patient, making it fun, and maybe just tossing a few rocks into the river if the fish aren’t biting. With a little luck, you can have a fishing partner for life.