When I arrived in the Yukon in 1977, I found the fishing was unbelievable even close to home and that suited me because I really liked to fish. Now 41 years later I still enjoy angling, but I am not quite so driven to catch a lot of fish.
About 10 years into my Yukon residency I had the pleasure of getting into a full-time relationship with a long-time Yukon woman and her two children, 4 years and 7 years at that time. The kids are now grown up and on their own and the lady and I are still partners.
I cannot say whether or not it was based on my love of fishing, but everyone got the bug and wanted to fish very often. For mother it was fairly short lived, but the kids could still be described in the range from avid to fanatic.
During those early years I found myself beating my head against a brick wall until I came to accept some obvious realities regarding fishing with children.
Among the first lessons for me was that the adult in the party is also the referee or peacemaker for the many complaints, challenges and envious comments – especially if the youngsters are siblings.
Good luck explaining why one caught five fish while the other caught none – while using the same lure in the same method.
You are also expected to be the lure expert and the never wrong guide who steers the boat to where the fish are located.
You are also the line untangler, whether it is wrapped around another line, the anchor rope or the outboard propeller.
Yours is the responsibility to make sure the cooler is full of snacks and an overabundance of juice-boxes and canned pop.
Casts into the shoreline alders and snagging the bottom or stumps are frequent and often in the worst places or the worst conditions for manoeuvering the boat to retrieve the lure
Clearly my biggest lesson – and one learned very early – is that fishing with children is much easier and relaxing if you understand that you are not there to fish. You are there to serve and that is an important function.
Once I understood that lesson, the whole world got brighter. I watched the eagles, looked at the view, had a couple of beverages and kept my hooked-up rod handy for those moments when I could take the occasional cast.
Early on I discovered that fishing is educational, as it allows young people to learn how to be a little more patient while at the same time letting you know that you have very little patience, and you’d better learn where to get some pretty fast.
Where it can be afforded, children should have their own fishing equipment including rod, tackle and tackle container. Kids are very tough on equipment so any loss (i.e. rod dropped in the lake) is out of their inventory and not yours.
Having their own gear also helps them to learn basic care, maintenance and responsible behaviour. Good quality beginner or basic fishing kits are plentiful in our big-box stores at various, but quite reasonable, prices. They solve any birthday or Christmas present concerns you may have.
Fishing for youngsters may be their first glimpse of ethics and responsible behaviour in relation to nature. Lessons learned out on the land really do apply in every other place. They make us better people.