Kids and fishing go together like cake and ice cream.
As a general rule, as long as they’re catching fish, kids are happy. It’s during those extended dry spells that those short attention spans begin to flutter. That’s when the mentor needs to remember that this family-friendly pastime is about a lot more than catching fish.
“When your kids are fingerlings themselves, it’s more about getting out for a little R&R and your kids getting out for a little fresh air than it actually catching fish,” says Eugene Buchanan, the Steamboat Springs-based author of ” Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors.” “But what better excuse is there to wet a line? ‘Honey, I’m taking the kids fishing,’ is an utterance that will likely never land you in the dog house.”
Once that commitment has been made, the key is staying on the kids’ good side. And that means picking a good spot to fish.
It’s always a good idea to fish where kids are likely to catch something. It’s a better idea to have a backup activity planned if the fishing isn’t working out.
Even the most ardent fly fishers recognize that most kids don’t have the patience, or coordination, for fly casting. But a $15 push-button rod-and-reel combo with a casting bubble (basically a water-logged bobber) and a sinking fly like a hare’s ear of pheasant tail a few feet below is generally just the ticket for catching stocked trout or sunfish. Good old worms will also do the trick.
“Occasionally I’ll even throw a little PowerBait onto an old dry fly and turn the kids loose at a little brook trout pond near home,” Buchanan confessed. “I feel guilty for keeping a jar in my fly-fishing vest until I hear the yell that makes all parents proud: ‘Dad! I got one! I got one!’ ”
Nothing offers more action for kids than sunfish/bluegill, especially when they move to the shallows for spring spawning and aggressively attack almost any bait. But a well-stocked trout pond is never a bad idea either. A slightly wilder reservoir such as Fairlplay Beach up in South Park offers the benefit of both abundant stocker trout for younger kids and an occasional trophies 5 pounds or more on spawning runs up from Spinney Mountain Reservoir a dozen miles downstream.
Even though dad is probably better off leaving his tackle in the truck while teaching a kid to fish, those kinds of opportunities can be hard to pass up. Since fishing serves as the ultimate multi-generational sport, however, the savvy angler is wise to bring grandpa along for just such emergencies. That way you can have your cake, and ice cream too.
Family fishing hot spots
A closer look at three family friendly fishing spots.
– Mount Evans Trout Fishing (Grandma & Grandpa’s Fishing Pond), Idaho Springs. Poles, bait, fish cleaning, friendly help and reindeer-watching included . No license and no limit. 303-567-4017
– Bear Creek Lake Park, Lakewood. Trout, bass, bluegill and perch can be caught in this large lake. Boat rentals and wildlife exhibits at the visitor center, where rangers can help plan your trip. 303-697-6159
– St. Vrain State Park, Longmont. A great spot for families with easy hiking and wildlife watching (eagles, herons). Heavily stocked with trout, catfish, bass, perch, bluegill and saugeye. 303-485-0186
Other suggested spots, courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife:
Chipeta Lake, Montrose County
Corn Lake, Mesa County
Fairplay Beach, Park County
Frantz Lake, Chaffee County
Haviland Lake, La Plata County
Kingfisher Cove at Chatfield State Park, Douglas/Jefferson counties
Midwestern Farm Pond, Prowers County
Monument Lake, El Paso County
West Lake, Mesa County
Learn more at: cpw.state.co.us/fish/takekidsfishing
Note: Kids under age 16 can fish for free anytime in Colorado.
-By Scott Willoughby