The FishWitch Journal -
July 2001 (c) Mary Riley
If there's one thing I hate it's being outsmarted by a kid. --
All fishermen know that fishing is about presentation; presentation of your offering to
the fish. Presentation, however, takes on a whole new meaning when you're dealing with an
eight year old.
Chubbydude is the youngest member of our fishing group. He's short for
his age but built like a bulldog and just as tough. He likes fishing but he doesn't like
the waiting it entails. He expects to have a fish on as soon as his bait hits the water.
So I had my doubts when recently I took four kids, ranging in age
from 8 to 15, perch fishing for a day. Piece of cake, I thought, and was cocky enough to
break the cardinal rule of kidfishing and took along my own rod.
To my surprise, the two 15 year old boys would neither put worms
on their hooks or take off their catches. I fixed that quick. The 12 year old girl,
my daughter, had the same attitude, but I'm working on her.
Chubbydude is a little different. He will bait his own hook
and remove and release his own fish. He will not, however, deal with tangled line or
spinning reels that snarl, or fishing spots that don't produce. He simply cannot
understand how the guy beside him is catching fish after fish while his line is
literally dead in the water.
I showed him several times how to retrieve without
encountering tackle problems, using the spinning rod and reel to teach him patience and
angling skills. Unkown to me he was devising a solution of his own. As the day progressed
and I was kept busy with all four kids, I finally noticed that Chubbydude had stopped
complaining for quite awhile. I was unaware of him moving along our fishing
First, he tangled his line again, and asked Shane to fix it
for him. While Shane worked on the mess, Chubbydude picked up Shane's rod and began to
fish until he tangled it too. Next, he slyly moved to Mike and asked him to untangle the
line on Shane's rod. As Mike obliged, Chubby picked up Mike's rod and was back in the
water in no time. A few minutes later, Kathleen fell for the same tactic.
I watched in disbelief as Chubbydude blithely caught fish
after fish and deposited them in our catch pail, while the three other kids sat on the
pier fighting with hopelessly tangled line.
Now of course, being a responsible adult, I hauled Chubby
aside and gave him a stern lecture on respect for other people's gear. I told him since he
had been fishing since he was around four, and came from a family of experienced anglers,
he should know by now how to fish without tangling his line on every cast. As he dutifully
hung his head and looked suitably forlorn, I softened somewhat and of course felt like the
proverbial you-know-what for being so tough on him. Like he says, he's "oney
The afternoon wore on and Chubbydude was doing
admirably. The other kids were thoroughly enjoying themselves, getting that happy
tiredness that only comes from doing something fun. We had a competition with the most and
biggest fish, and all the ragging and bantering that goes with fishing. The kids were
begging for "just one more cast" (which is the best sign that they're well and
truly hooked on the sport).
And then Chubbydude had another big tangle. A real bird's
nest this time. He was at the other end of the row of kids and called me in his best
little boy voice, asking me to please come and help. So I laid down my rod (line in the
water of course; you NEVER stop fishing) and strode down the pier to fix him up. It was
such a mess I didn't notice when he was no longer watching over my shoulder.
I figure that in about 3 days my rod should be ready to