Fun Teaching A Kid to Fish

I’ve known Davin Boehle since he was 6 months old. I remember when he started crawling and then walking. So when he turned 2, I began to pester his father, Bill, to let me take Davin fishing — even though I was aware of the iffy nature of teaching a toddler the fine art of angling.

A 2-year-old will catch a couple of sunfish before the toddler attention span kicks in. At that point, interest in fishing begins to wane. The youngster becomes more enthusiastic about throwing rocks into the water.

After Davin’s fifth birthday, I entreated Bill to let me put a fishing pole in Davin’s hand before he graduated to middle school. Bill relented, and we set out for the lake in the second week of June.

When I asked Davin if he knew how to fish, he made a casting motion with his hands and then expressed doubts about being able to actually do it. I assured him that I was going to teach him how to catch fish.

Our first spot was the boat launch on Crystal Lake. Davin couldn’t quite get the hang of casting with the Zebco 202 outfit, which is the ideal rig for a beginner. So I tossed the bait into the water and told him to watch the bobber.

Even after fishing for 58 years, I still get excited when a bobber begins to quiver and then dives below the surface.

We managed to catch a sunfish, which thrilled Davin. But the water was still cool, so this particular spot wasn’t producing like it would in July. We had to move to a hotter fishing hole.

I had scouted the area earlier in the week because I wanted to make sure we were successful. If a child has to wait a long time between bites, it might turn him or her off to fishing for a lifetime.

Luckily, I had access to a spot where I knew there would be fish. Any dock on Crystal will be harboring tons of rock bass and sunfish this time of year.

When Davin dropped the worm next to the dock, the orange bobber went under the surface immediately. He had hooked a good-sized rockie that gave him a pretty decent fight on the light tackle.

I showed him how to unhook the fish and explained that we were releasing it into the water unharmed, imparting an early lesson of conservation.

Each time the bait hit the water, there was strike. Davin reeled in rockies and sunnies, one after another. I encouraged him to keep his rod tip high so the fish wouldn’t get away.

“I think you caught at least 10,” I told him.

“No, 13!” Davin cried.

Apparently he had been counting.

After 10 or 12 more, Davin said his hands were beginning to hurt from all the reeling. He wanted me to catch one. But as soon as I lifted another fat rock bass from the water, he decided to fish again.

Eventually he wanted to go. I acquiesced, because I didn’t want to push him.

Whenever a kid is ready to stop, it’s always a good idea to head for home. That way, they don’t get tired out and leave with a negative impression.

The next day, I checked in with Bill to see if Davin had enjoyed himself. Bill assured me that Davin was still excited about his very first trip to the lake. He was telling everyone fishing stories that were entirely true.

When Davin is ready to try again, I hope to work on his casting.

But for now, I am content to have made another convert to the age-old tradition of catching fish. He had a fun time and that’s all that counts.

Reports from the field have been encouraging.

Fly fishing enthusiast and guide Art Rafus has been slamming the rainbows in the Black River up in Cavendish, Vt. He also ranged as far as northern New Hampshire, in the Pittsburg region, where he found brookies, rainbows and salmon. Trout are thriving in the cool, rainy weather. Rafus’s fishing adventures can be viewed on YouTube.

Jim Rock has also been fishing a different Black River in New Hampshire. He got a nice brown and a couple of rainbows. Rock fishes the deep holes with a broke-back rappala.

The Mascoma River is producing. Jeb Lozeau and Pete Brown caught rainbows and brookies fishing around Enfield. According to Lozeau, they were right in town.

White perch will also school in the Mascoma this time of year, making it easy to catch a mess for the dinner table.

Dan Magoon hasn’t had the same luck in the Connecticut River. High water levels and muddy conditions have complicated the fishing. Magoon has managed to catch some walleyes, but he’s had to work hard for them. He expects the fishing to improve when the water falls and clears up a bit.

Kristen Bardorf, who usually goes after panfish, caught and released her first bass this year. She got the 1 1/2-pound largemouth on a black and chartreuse soft plastic lizard attached to a non-lead jig head. She was fishing at the north end of Crystal Lake in the stream that runs under the bridge.

The dam at the north end of Mascoma Lake always produces fish this time of year. Lisa Fleming, of Canaan, has had luck with sunfish, rock bass and a pretty good-sized trout. She was fishing with her friend, David Chestnut, who has not yet confirmed that her rainbow was the big fish of the day.

David Titus managed to catch a 17-inch brookie out of Chandler Creek, a small tributary of Lake Sunapee.

The trout, which Titus says must have come out of the lake, had a hooked jaw. He caught it on the best universal bait of all time, a nightcrawler.

Azher Ahmad, the proprietor of the Mascoma Village Store, recently acquired a new boat, an 18-foot Smoker Craft that is perfect for trolling. He has to leave at 2 a.m., to get to Lake Winnepasaukee, but his early rising has paid off.

Using downriggers, Ahmad landed a 21-inch salmon and an 19-inch lake trout. He uses silverspoons and has been trolling at 45 feet.

For myself, I can recommend topwater action for smallmouth. The Rebel Pop-R or the Tiny Torpedo are enticing bass on Mascoma and Crystal.

Even though the water is still a bit cool, the smallies don’t seem to mind. I’ve caught them in my boat and from shore.

Crystal has also been producing some rainbows, though my sources tell me that it’s been kind of slow. They’re reading trout on the fish finder, but getting them to bite is another story.

Trolling streamers seems to be the best technique. I’ve never caught a brown out of Crystal, but they tell me they’re in there.

As the water continues to warm, the weed beds will grow.

Smallmouth and largemouth relate to the kind of cover offered by weeds. Soft plastic, Texas-rigged worms or lizards always produce bass around vegetation.

In the meantime, as long as the cooler temperatures prevail, the trout fishing will be excellent.

We are in the heart of the New Hampshire fishing season, so take advantage of prime conditions and get out on the water.

If you aren’t catching fish this time of year, you just aren’t trying hard enough.


Letter: Fishing for Fond Memories

Monday, July 1, 2013

To the Editor: Reading Coleman Stokes’ fine article about bringing his friend’s young son fishing (“Fun Teaching a Kid to Fish,” Sunday Valley News, June 23) got me to thinking about when I was young and going fishing with my aunt and uncle. We were on the banks of the Connecticut River fishing for horned pout, and my aunt caught …