Teach Your Children Well ... to Fish – Boatload of Benefits

By RAFAEL MORILLO | Jul 31, 2019

One of the best gifts you can give your children or grandchildren is to pick up a rod and teach them to fish.

There is the direct teaching experience as you lovingly show them the “how” aspects of the sport. You will learn a lot through their eager questions, small successes and defeats, shared laughs and sad moments.

Concentrate on the whole experience, not just the fishing. A young mind is eager to learn about its surroundings and is curious about everything.

While a back bay channel full of snappers may be the perfect spot to begin, make an effort and introduce them to those very special places you have come to love. Never underestimate their capacity for appreciation. If you do your job well, they will come to love fishing as something more than just catching fish.

This first part of teaching may be limited by your own abilities and knowledge. A second part will occur inevitably, without your help or presence. This part they will pursue at their own pace, by their own means and, most importantly, for the rest of their life.

If you are lucky, this second phase will be centered on the “why” fish and learning to love the places where fish are found. They will come to appreciate their relationship with nature and their cherished sport.

Many recommendations seem logical: teach lovingly, be patient and, most of all, do not oversell. Teach the importance of time shared together, that fishing has little to do with catching fish but much to do with shared friendship. Relax, let things happen. Silence sometimes can be more valuable than explanations. Your role is to be a guide in a journey of discovery.

Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process. Anticipation and preparation, if only for a trip to the nearby dock, can be as much fun as getting there. Just the idea of going to a faraway or special place will keep them awake all night to make sure they don’t miss the opportunity. Remember, many aspects of preparation trivial to you can be important lessons and sources of great joy on their part.

Do not think of them as children. Think of them as your special fishing buddies with whom to share secrets and fun. Try to see them as you would like them to be when they grow. If you are observant and can stand apart to watch their evolution, you will witness a beautiful transformation from novice to fisherman just as they evolve from children to adults.

When they hold their first wild brook trout or snapper blue and admire its incredible beauty, they will learn to appreciate the bounty that nature can offer. They’ll see that not all jewels are for sale and that things of beauty need not be owned to be enjoyed.

Both in choosing to keep the catch or to release it gently and unharmed, important lessons are to be learned. They’ll come to understand that life is precious, death final, nature not without limits. That today’s actions have consequences tomorrow and you can be proud of yourself without being selfish. The important contest is within yourself; it is not a race.

One day, when they’re older and return to that very same spot seeking to re-create a memory, pollution and development will have taken their toll. They’ll learn just how fragile and precious our world is.

There are lessons about passion and love, wanting something so much it hurts deep inside and that not all things we want can be had. There will be many fish lost or a trophy taken. They will experience the joy of success and the agony of defeat. They’ll value and feel the sadness of the last cast of the season and the anticipation before fishing a new place full of unimaginable new challenges.

Be prepared to accept that they’ll be working hard to outdo you, beat and shame you at your own game. Rejoice when they succeed! Look ahead to a time to come when they’ll call on you to share time, fish together, relive the memories of times past.

They’ll learn that sharing things that matter most will make them much more valuable.

Just when they think they know it all, a body of water somewhere will deny its bounty and teach them humility. They’ll learn the bitter flavor of defeat, but passion will send them back to trying even harder. They’ll learn that fish cannot be bribed, bought or talked into taking their offerings. They will understand that the big one does not necessarily go to the most skillful, the richest or the smartest.

Soon they’ll grow restless and feel confined by home waters, known streams and familiar places. They’ll want to visit new places, try their skills on new species, see the world.

To satisfy their desires they’ll learn to earn the means to sustain their passion. They will be motivated to work harder, be creative, productive and generate the wealth necessary to afford the needs of this quest. They’ll learn the value of time and perhaps finally understand fishing days truly are not to be deducted from life.

One day, long after you have gone to the proverbial happy fishing grounds, after a particularly fun evening, they’ll be seeking a place of solace, sitting on a log by the flowing river of life to contemplate the bounty delivered, the good feeling of being in the right place at the right time, their love of fishing.

In solitude and thoughtful contemplation, they’ll remember you with love and thankfulness for the precious gift that you left – a legacy of things important, happy moments shared, secrets kept.

Not only will you have filled their lives with a very special gift, but you will have also achieved what most people seek in life: to go on living in the hearts of loved ones, to leave a worthwhile mark, to be remembered.

Rafael Morillo lives in Barnegat Light.





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