Introduce a junior to fishing – James Furness
IYCF editor James Furness explains why introducing a child to angling is incredibly easy and will be your best-ever session
LAST month it was reported that there had been a 53 per cent increase in the number of junior rod licences issued. A fantastic piece of news for the sport! This means that 79,000 kids have given fishing a try for the first time. This was the first time in as long as I can remember that we haven’t had to read about declining numbers of juniors coming into the sport. So, to celebrate, this Great British Fishing feature is a little bit different than normal. These features usually focus on a particular venue that is fishing well or can offer anglers something out of the ordinary. But what could be greater than introducing a newcomer to the wonderful world of fishing?
Keep it simple
Looking at some anglers on the bank, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you need to purchase half the contents of a tackle shop for a day’s fishing. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The kit needed to start a newcomer on their angling journey is actually pretty minimal. And if you can take them to a venue where they are guaranteed to catch a few fish you’ll create an angler for life. Children have so much access to technology but there is still something amazing about catching a fish. Access to the right venues and simple tactics will ensure they enjoy their time on the bank. Plonk a child behind a couple rods on bite alarms and then wait
hours for a bite and they’ll soon lose interest. But if they are regularly catching they will have a memorable day. They have no desire to catch a named carp or the biggest fish in the lake. To them, anything extracted from this mysterious underwater world is incredible. My eightyear-old son, Toby, loves studying the different species. From the spiky-finned perch to silver roach, he finds it fascinating. The great thing about these species is that they are so simple to catch. Fish with a top kit, whip or a waggler rod with maggots and you can catch small ravenous perch and silver fish all day long. There is no need for anything more complicated.
The residents-only lake in my local village is typical of venues which can be found all over the country. It’s a few acres in size, with large beds of lily pads lining the margins and is stuffed with small fish as well as the occasional tench and carp which may put in an appearance at any moment. It is these hordes of silvers and the constant bites they provide which make a venue ideal for any newcomer. Not only does it keep them interested it enables them to quickly get the hang of skills such as striking and feeding. Regularly catapulting out a few maggots close to the lilies and fish a single or double maggot hookbait just below the surface and it won’t take long to start getting bites. There’s something incredibly nostalgic about fishing like this. I can clearly remember my first fishing trip, catching roach on a waggler with my grandad. The excitement of watching a float tip disappear never fades. Whatever form of angling you eventually end up pursuing, the kid inside you will always get a buzz from this simplest of angling pleasures. I’d told Toby earlier in the week that I’d pick him up from school on Friday and we’d
“Fish with a top kit and maggots and you’ll catch silver fish all day long”
go fishing for a few hours before tea. I left work early in the afternoon, bought a pint of maggots on the way home and by 4pm we were set-up in a beautiful peg lined with reeds on either side and large lily pads in front. I showed Toby where to catapult a few maggots – I think getting to use a catapult is actually one of the things he loves most about fishing – and he then shipped out a top kit with a ready rig and double maggot hookbait attached. Within seconds the float darted under but his excited strike was met with thin air. The rig was lowered back into position and the same thing happened for the next few bites. But he quickly got the hang of just gently lifting the pole up when the float went under and was soon landing small roach after small roach. We’d just landed a perch when one of Toby’s school friends came past our peg while walking his dog with his mum.
“We’re fishing!” Toby shouted to him. “Come and look what we’ve caught.” They both looked on with interest as I showed them the perch’s spiky fins and stripes on its body. And this is the magic of fishing through a child’s eyes. They would have been no more amazed by a 40lb carp than this palm-sized perch. We ended up with more roach, a couple of skimmers and two cracking little rudd all on two red maggots fished up in the water. My favourite fishing trips are these few hours at a time I spend on the bank with Toby. So if you’ve got a family member or friend who has shown an interest in fishing, try and introduce them to our sport this summer. Trust me, you’ll love it as much as they do.
Ready rigs don’t cost a lot and make setting up much easier
Regulary feed maggots to keep fish feeding up in the water
You only need maggots for bait
Rudd provide great sport when fishing shallow
A net of mixed species caught in just a couple of hours – great fun!