Laying on my back in our lush green lawn I remember pointing my toes strait down, rocking my nose upward, and straining to stretch my head-to-toe distance far as I could compared to the salmon my dad laid next to me. I was longer, but not by much. My younger sister did the same and the two of us giggled as we made funny faces while our mom snapped photos of us and the large fall chinook that dad was about to fillet. Memories like that are solid gold for kids, and eventually the adults we all become.
Fishing was an immediate fascination for me much before I was old enough to actually grip the cork handle of a fishing rod. As a young kid, tagging along as my dad fished was a chance to get dirty, to chase frogs, fumble through his tackle box and of course play with worms and those colorful jars of fish eggs!
When a fish was hooked however, a fever-pitched energy came over the both of us and I’d watch in painful anticipation, wondering what kind of fish was on the end of the line and what it would look like. The sheer size of salmon and steelhead swimming up this river was enough to make any five year old kid vibrate with enchanted excitement. Like living dinosaurs, (every kid’s favorite monster) these fish came from a mysterious underwater world. They where seemingly gigantic in size, and quite honestly terrified me. But I could never get them out of my mind!
It was those times as a kid, scrambling along the rivers edge that I discovered my first love and excitement for the outdoors. Something that over time led to my present career as an outdoor photographer and filmmaker. Without any doubt, fishing was the “gateway drug” that led me deeper and deeper into a childhood fascination of learning and having fun outside. That fascination took a firm hold over the course of my childhood, creating a respectful life-long relationship with all things outside and natural.
For kids, an introduction to fishing is just one of many new experiences that explore the fantastic world of being outdoors. For those of us who introduce children to fishing, it’s an opportunity to share the importance of learning about the world around us, one lesson at a time. Besides the opportunities for learning, fresh air and quality family time, there is another aspect I think is even more valuable: An opportunity for parents and kids to develop and share a common excitement for an activity that everyone can enjoy and look forward to together. Fishing has some sort of magnetic draw that is blind to age (or gender for that matter). How many other activities can you think of that draw equal levels of fun and fascination of 3-93 year olds?
I think every generation has it’s own anchors, foundations of childhood memories. There is an intangible value to shared activities like this, in a time where our perceived world around us has changed so drastically in the past century. Splashing along the side of a creek and fumbling with fishing tackle in the warm summer breeze has a timeless nostalgia to it. A feeling of security that relates to the same world our parents, grandparents and beyond all shared and understood. They would not understand the iphone or mobil devices of today, and who can predict similar things of the future that we can not begin to imagine today? Well lets hope that kids of today and tomorrow will remember us, the first time they felt the thrill of a fish on a line, and how much of their life they’ve enjoyed because of it.