by Harley McAllister
The most important thing about getting kids interested in fishing is making sure that there is plenty of action to capture their short attention spans. But obviously that is a challenge as there are no sure bets when it comes to fishing. However, sometimes opportunities present themselves where it comes pretty darn close to a sure thing.
We went there on July 11th with the intent to head out in our raft (not a great fishing rig), but when we pulled into the parking lot at 7am there were lots of trout rising in the narrow part of the lake right at the gravel boat ramp. Rather than rigging the boat we simply rigged up our rods and started casting. For the next 90 minutes the action was constant, and even with releasing a good number of fish we soon found ourselves with three limits of trout. Now, these weren't big fish, but they were gullible and hungry so the kids had a blast.
If you are interested this is about as easy an intro to fishing as you can get. The boat ramp is a free public access (bring the parking pass that comes with your fishing license), and kids 14 and under don't even need a fishing license. A simple spinning rod with 4-6 lb. line should suffice, and just about any modest size spinning lure would work - Mepps, Rooster Tail, Panther Martin, Blue Fox, etc. These fish aren't selective.
If you plan to release smaller ones I would recommend finding a lure with a single hook instead of a treble hook, or at a minimum crimp your barbs. In our rush to get going we failed to do this and were reminded how hard it is to safely release a fish that has taken a treble hook, causing us to keep several smaller fish that we would have rather released. There is no minimum size for trout in this lake, but still we would have rather waited for some bigger ones.
If you are really new to fishing but anxious to get started don't be shy about heading to a fishing shop and asking some questions. Everyone I know loves to share their wisdom and help new folks get started, especially where kids are concerned.
Finally, try and cook your kids catch up someway special and right away. It will make them feel proud and help make connections to he resource that provide valuable lessons. It doesn't have to be fancy to be special, just make a big deal of eating what they brought home.
And on your way home drive through Turnbull NWR - maybe you'll spot the same mother and calf moose that we saw!