Check out the new 'Salmo Saxtilis' fly rods designed by Ken Abrames in the stripermoon store.
Fishing is enough on its own that he doesn't need to make it out to be something it's not.
The single most important person I take fishing every year is my currently six-year old nephew and I take him every chance I get. Aside from an occasional outburst which generally is Eric's penchant for wanting to bean a fish on the head with a rock or to bludgeon him with a Bogagrip, he's generally well behaved thanks to my sister-in-law. I, on the other hand, prefer him to be an outlaw.
I like the way Eric's eyes light up when I ask him to go fishing and I wish more of my fishing pals felt the same way. I have three serious buddies who get a similar glow in their eyes when we figure out a trip. It is sad that most anglers I talk to do not. Eric cannot sleep the night before a trip and I'd bet a week's wage that he won't quit on me while we're out there. One time last year he fell asleep on my shoulders as I hauled him from my boat to my truck. My little guy couldn't make the 15 feet until I buckled him in.
Eric doesn't need a reason to go. He doesn't need to try new gear or new flies because they're all new to him. It is irrelevant whether he catches a six-inch sunfish or a thirty-pound bass; in fact, he may well prefer the small sunfish. And Eric knows the ground rules of respect, honor and tradition and he obeys them perfectly because for him fishing is simple: he just likes to go.
He likes to get the gear ready, pack some food, and listen to the WX channel. He likes his pair of little rubber boots that he will wear on the sunniest of days for as long as he can and he'd prefer to wear them to bed believing we can get fishing faster in the morning. He likes his ballcaps and calls his small, polarized glasses fish goggles. In doing so he joins a much older fraternity of anglers and he prefers it that way.
Eric likes being one of the guys and so I've set him up with some of his own tackle. He doesn't want anything new because everyone else has time-tested gear. He likes the salty patina on canvas-and-leather duffel bags, he likes dirty cork grips, and he likes scratches on reels. He knows that those blemishes do not come from neglect, rather from being used regularly and that many of them are associated with a story that he retells often and in painstaking detail. In honoring his wishes I've given him an old chest pack that hangs down to his knees. The zippers don't work so smoothly anymore and there are a few blood stains that the sun has baked permanently into the nylon. He wears the pack in my truck and hangs it on the boat's console when we're fishing so that he doesn't trip. Eric likes to move around a lot as all kids do, and his movement isn't random.
He isn't above asking questions and they aren't limited to how to catch the biggest fish in the water. Eric's questions come up with astounding regularity, but he wants to know everything including some questions I can't answer with certainty.
"What kind of bird is that?"
"Why does the water splash so hard over there?"
"Why do sea gulls just eat the eyes and bellies from a dead fish and leave the best parts behind?"
"Why are those guys leaving so soon?"
Mostly Eric wants to know about the water, the tides, the baitfish, and, most of all, why, after only 12 hours, we have to go in.
He easily accepts the facts that someone designed the fly and the gear that we're using. Maybe he'll come to care more specifically about who it was later on but I doubt it. He just wants to know who has been out on the water and how they did. If a fellow fisherman heard about a blitz a few days ago Eric listens carefully but he mostly wants the truth. He gives more credence to the man who was there and saw it and then wants to know everything. All the adverbial questions come into play and he asks who, what, where, when and why? And if an older man doesn't talk to this six-year old as a fisherman and looks at him as merely a kid, well, then, it's their loss. He may not be as generous to them when he's running his own boat and they want information. And because he commands a fisherman's respect he gets it just as every real fisherman should.
In the reality of things, fishing is an excuse for us to spend time together. I happen to be quite fond of fishing and it is a skill I would like to pass down to a worthy recipient. I can think of none better but that's my own personal bias. I'm sure that you have one of your own, too.
There is no pomp-and-splendor, this is not a High Mass. To Eric it's just fishing. Fishing is enough on its own that he doesn't need to make it out to be something it's not. He just likes learning about why there is a tug at the end of his line and how to get more of them. I think that's just great. And if he's only got a couple of hours to fish I'll drive a dozen to make sure that he does because Eric's worth it.© 2001 Tom Keer