Babe Winkelman

Fishing Builds Strong Kids

During the next few months we’re going to be bombarded by a media campaign encouraging us to “take a kid fishing.”

Here are some good excuses to ignore it:

* You’re too busy.

* You can’t afford it.

* Fishing has gone high-tech, requiring lots of complicated equipment you don’t know how to use.

* There aren’t any good fishing spots close to home.

* Your kid would rather play video games anyway.

* You’re a single parent who doesn’t know how to fish.

Babe Winkelman and his daughter Karlee hold up a nice largemouth bass.

* You’d like to go fishing, but the boss needs that report done by Monday and you have to go on the road Tuesday, and you’ve been working 24/7 and … .

* Fishing is cruel and should be outlawed.

Taking Kids Fishing: Many Benefits
Now I’d like to offer a few reasons why you should take a kid fishing.

* “Hell week” at a drug rehab center is both expensive and time-consuming, to say nothing of painful.

* It beats having a television news crew show up for an interview after your youngster takes a gun or knife to school.

* Your car insurance premiums will go through the roof after your teenage driver smashes your car in a fit of rage.

* Your kid’s future is more important than any report or business trip.

* You may discover that spending a day fishing with your son or daughter is quite therapeutic.

* A youngster neglected by his or her parents feels a lot more pain than a hooked fish.

We blame everyone for the problems young people are experiencing. We blame television, video games and movies for polluting their minds. We blame our school systems and inadequate teachers for letting kids down.

And we blame guns, because obviously if there weren’t any guns there wouldn’t be any gun violence. And we blame the government because –well — when in doubt, it’s easy to blame politicians.

Parents Must Take Initiative
The truth is, when it comes to child rearing, the buck stops at home. Parents bring kids into the world and, like it or not, they’re our responsibility.

I’m not suggesting that fishing is a panacea that will make youngsters immune to problems, but it is a proven fact that fishing can have a positive influence on kids. There’s nothing magical about fishing per se, it’s just a great way for dad and/or mom to spend quality time with their kids. In fact, if you look in the dictionary under “quality time” there’s a picture of a family fishing together (at least, there should be).

It really doesn’t matter if you bring home a mounting-size bass or a limit of chunky walleyes. What’s important is the time you share with your youngster.

If you’d like to take your kid fishing, but aren’t sure how to go about it, here are some ways to do it even if you’ve never fished in your life:

* Check with a local bait or tackle shop to see if there are any local clubs that conduct a kids’ outing in conjunction with “take a kid fishing” month. If so, sign up as a volunteer. These groups always need help.

Fish From An Inexpensive Launch
* Check on charter or guide services in your area. While hiring a guide for a day can be expensive, many areas have launches that accommodate large numbers of people at very affordable rates.

* Ask your friends who fish if they’d be willing to take you and your child out for a day or — at the very least — loan you some of their old equipment, give you some pointers, and push you in the right direction.

* Go to a bait shop and explain to the owner you know nothing about fishing and have no equipment, but would like to purchase some inexpensive gear. Ask, too, for the location of a quiet spot on a lake, river or stream, where you could sit on shore drowning a minnow under a bobber with the chance of catching a bluegill or bullhead.

It really isn’t that complicated and it really doesn’t matter if you catch anything or not. The goal is to spend time with our kids; everything else is secondary.

Bring a lunch, including something that can be prepared over a campfire. Talk about the trees and the birds and the insects and how they are part of a biotic community. Tell jokes. Play with night crawlers or worms. Soak up the fresh air.

Get sunburned. Talk.

Just do it. Together.

For an assortment of Babe Winkelman fishing DVDs, click here.

For a fine assortment of Freshwater fishing gear, click here.

Editor’s Note: Babe has shared his love of the outdoors with TV viewers for more than 25 years. Babe will share his tips and outdoor adventures weekly on In 1984, Babe’s “Good Fishing” program debuted and later his “Outdoor Secrets” show became popular with hunting enthusiasts. Babe’s programs appear on the Outdoor Life Network, WGN, Fox Sports Net, Fox College Sports, The Men’s Channel, Sportsman’s Channel, Great American Country, WILD TV, and Comcast. Babe also writes hunting, fishing and conservation columns that are carried by up to 350 newspapers each week. Winkelman sponsors include Chevrolet, Miller High Life, Johnsonville Brats, Crestliner Boats, St. Croix Rods, Browning, Hunter’s Specialties, Nikon, Minn Kota, Optima Batteries, Mathews, Honda, and many more.

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