Focus Carlsbad Fall 2021 | Teach a Kid to Fish

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It’s called fishing, but kids like catching.

They like the tug of the line, the yank to set the hook, the frenetic reeling, the hauling in. Kids like digging around in that little Styrofoam cup to find the best, the juiciest worm. They cast without regard for low hanging branches or reeds or unsuspecting siblings behind them. They let their weighted line sink down to the crooks and crags of a submerged log. They let out too much slack and forget to pay attention to knots and tangles in their fishing lines. Kids get hooks stuck in their fingers. They drop their poles in the water. They fall in and muddy their shoes to the point of no return. Kids talk the whole time they fish. Loudly. (If you go with my kids, “loudly” is talking peppered with a lot of fart jokes and sound effects.) That is the magic of fishing with kids, though. When you take a kid to fish, they talk. Settle into your lawn chair, cast, and wait. Don’t say much, don’t overcorrect their fishing technique. The kids might be fishing for a trophy, but you have a different prize in your sights: quality time.
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Let the kids fill the silence. Often, they will wax philosophical. You would be surprised about their depth of thought. Between casts and tangled lines, you learn that these little people are full of big ideas. They have dreams and fears and goals that are rarely articulated in the hubbub of normal life.

Anglers know the magic spell that fishing casts on time; it changes. An hour does not pass in its typical fashion. An hour can stretch from daybreak to lunch. It can feel as short as the time it takes to set the hook and holler: “fish on.” Kids are sucked into that magical time warp too. They feel your presence, your interest in what they have to say. Their hands are busy, their eyes on the water, and their hearts are open to yours. A day spent fishing with the kids can fill their proverbial cup for weeks to come.

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Lessons for a lifetime can be learned by placing a fishing pole in little hands. Lessons about patience and handling disappointment, about taking pleasure in simple tasks, and enjoying the great outdoors. Ask an old-timer about when someone they loved took them fishing as a kid, and they will have a story. We all do. Fishing with Grandpa, a beloved aunt, or a mentor who saw a kid that felt unseen, sticks with you. It is not the fish you catch (or more likely, the fish that “get away”); it is time.

The Pecos River, running right through Lake Carlsbad Recreational Park, is a great place to drop a line and get your kids talking. Whether you decide to fish from the bank or hop on a kayak, fish are abundant in these waters. Try your luck to snag a catfish, bass, or bluegill. Fishing on the Pecos River in Lake Carlsbad Park does not require Bass Master skills or fancy equipment. If you have a hook and a line, you and the kids are ready to give it a go.

Teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime. Take a kid to fish, you will inspire a lifetime of big ideas.

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Article written by Morgan Fox and originally published in Focus on Carlsbad 2021 Fall edition.
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