Fishing: the Greatest Gift
  |  First Published: November 2009

I, like many of us, have experienced a Christmas morning with a fine selection of fishing gear around the tree, but most of all, I treasure the memory of the Christmas when I got my very first fishing rod. While that rod is now long gone and has been superseded many times over, that first fishing rod represented so much more.

Being a woman in her own boat on the water often raises the question: how did you get into this? I have one answer for that: my Dad. The gift he gave me went far beyond the rod under the tree; it was the family holiday’s on Bribie Island, the early morning fishing trips, the lessons at the wheel of the boat, learning to tie down the boat to the trailer, not to mention reversing the trailer down a ramp. All of this culminates into a passion for the sport and adventure of fishing and boating and for that gift I will be eternally grateful.

So think about the gift you can give your own kids and extended family. I love nothing more than taking my young Godson on a fishing trip. He is only three but his natural curiosity and attention to detail already hold him in good stead to become a fine angler. In my fishing club there are a number of families who pursue the sport, both mums and dads taking time to pass on the gift to the next generation of fishing fanatics who are as keen as ever.

The great thing now is there is a good assortment of fishing gear aimed at the kid market. Shorter rods, colourful reels and tackle boxes, recently I even saw a Simpsons themed package. No matter how bright the package though what will really keep the munchkins happy is catching fish.

I have seen some young kids get into plastic fishing, the active nature of this style of fishing seems to keep children entertained. However they need to be able to cast, the last thing you want to be doing is casting while they are retrieving as this can wear thin very quickly.

My suggestion is to dedicate some time to casting practice in the backyard. You can use a rubber casting plug or I have also used a skirted lure without a hook. Kids pick things up pretty quickly; you only have to watch them in front of the latest computer game to see this. So I suggest putting out different colour buckets for them to aim at and put prizes in the buckets to keep them engaged.

If your kids aren’t ready to do their own casting then bait fishing is a good option, even bait gathering can be fun. Recently we targeted whiting on a kid focused fishing trip as these are easy fish to handle for kids and they just about hook themselves. We used a combination of plastics and live worms on the one hook.

To do this cut a 1.5-2cm length of Gulp worm in the bloodworm red colour and pass the hook point through the gulp twice, moving it to the top of the long shank hook. About half of the off cut sits out like a tag and this acts as an attractant, it also keeps the fish coming back. Then add a piece of live worm to fill the hook; this technique means you are not using expensive worms to fill a long shank hook.

Bloodworms do result in a better bite rate, however are not always easy to get hold of, so if unavailable you can use beach worms or live yabbies. We have caught whiting on the gulp worms alone and this is a good alternative for kids, however the bite rate does not compare to live bait.

We tend to fish a fairly light, smaller sinker with just enough weight to keep you on the bottom with 75cm or so leader. Make sure the drag isn’t set too tight; if the fish feel too much resistance they tend to become timid.

Whiting can be found around sandy drop-offs or scavenging the warm shallow waters on high tide, the bigger fish seem to hold in the rivers. A recent trip took us into the Nerang River and even though the water was quite dirty we still managed to find a few nice fish near the council chambers. The little fella hooked up and enjoyed the pleasure of catching fish and seeing his excitement was the highlight of the day.

Whether it’s plastics, bait or some casting practice in the backyard I encourage you to give the gift of fishing to the next generation, it’s definitely the best gift I have ever received.

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