* special note at the bottom of the post
Yesterday I had the day off and I stayed home with my four year old daughter and my one year old son.
One year old boys are crazy. They cruise around the house tearing into anything they can find. Following him is like following a little mini tornado. The bottom half of our Christmas tree has been decorated 5 times so far this year. I was amazed when for a moment yesterday my son was mesmerized by a ladybug struggling as it floated in our dog’s water dish. He stood over it seemingly studying its every move. He was taking the bug in, thinking of new materials to use for his next tying session. OK, not really but that’s what I was picturing. I stood proud over my son, observing what I was certain to be (or hoped to be) the start of his fly fishing obsession. As I wrangled him away from the bug and the dish I came upon my four year old who had arranged all of her stuffed animals in a circle. They were having tea and she was reading to them from the Hatch Guide of New England Streams. She flipped the pages and showed them pictures of bugs and then pictures of the fly imitations of those bugs. Pride overwhelmed me. We were on our way to many fun and meaningful memories created together around the sport of fly fishing.
This moment of parental bliss got me thinking about how parents and grandparents can foster a healthy love of fly fishing in our children.
Here is what I came up with.
Tips to foster a love of fly fishing in young children:
1. Indulge their curiosity – Whenever I have the vise or a fly box out my kids are all over me. They want to look and touch the flies and know what they are called. They pick favorites and tell me why a pink zebra midge #22 has a better chance of catching a “big shark” than the brown thingy (pheasant tail most of the time). With attentive supervision I let them look and touch the flies and I answer all their questions until they have moved their attention back to their own toys.
2. Share the beauty of the sport – Take the time to show them the beautiful things that surround fly fishing. Show them pictures. Talk to them about all the things you love about fly fishing. This will help them understand that fly fishing is more than just catching fish. The experience that is fly fishing will be something they will want to know more about.
3. Don’t be crazy – Let them drive the pace. No pressure. Make it fun. If they don’t show an interest don’t try to draw it out of them. Be patient. If you take them fishing make sure they are going because they want to go not because they feel like you will be disappointed if they don’t go. Don’t overdo it.
4. Don’t let fly fishing cause tension or conflict at home – Your kids will hate fly fishing if you and your wife are having blow out fights about your next trip. They will resent fly fishing if you are always in a stream and never home to be their parent. We all would say our kids are a priority over our love for fly fishing but sometimes the message we give to our kids with our actions and how we use our time is much different. Be attentive to the message you are sending to your kids with the use of your time.
5. Take them fishing and leave when they want to leave, even if it is after 3 casts.
*special note: As a parent my mind has been in Connecticut and with the families of all those innocent little victims since I heard the news of the school shooting Friday. I heard about the shooting shortly after I had this incredible moment with 2 of my own kids. My other one was at her elementary school. My wife was subbing in a middle school, both far from the tragedy but it still struck me pretty hard as I heard the terrible news. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those families who are crushed. Investing in the lives of children is something we should never take for granted and we should protect these little ones with all of the power we have.