With license-free fishing days coming up (June 19-20 and July 3-11) Cheryl Hopkins, avid fisher, mom of three and founder of Indigenous-owned BaitCloud, has provided the following tips on getting out on your lake with your kids.
“Safety should always come first. Be sure to pack life jackets for yourself and your children. Often kids will fight with you to remove their life jackets, but if they see everyone else wearing one, they’ll be more inclined to keep theirs on. Make sure it’s the right size, it’s a vibrant colour and it’s well maintained. A lot of hooks use barbs so be sure to handle that as the adult. You can pinch down the barb or use what’s called a “hide-a-hook bobber” for safer casting.
Of course, pack a lot of water, snacks and sunscreen to keep everyone hydrated and avoid sunburn.”
“Try to use a sidearm cast rather than an overhead. It’s typically safer for the kids. Be sure to say out loud the steps you are taking so kids remember it, which includes doing a shoulder-check to ensure no one is in harm’s way. Step two, bring your rod back keeping it above the waist. Step 3 is to swing the rod forward while flicking the wrist. Then finally step 4 is to release the line and end with the rod pointing at the target. It can take a few tries for youngsters to get the hang of it so offer lots of encouragement.”
FINDING THE RIGHT SPOT
“I prefer bringing little ones to shallower waters, on land or on a dock for their first time. It’s hard for a child to sit still in a small boat in general, but to add learning how to cast on top of it can become extra frustrating, so pick a stable ground for them to learn on.”
PROPER AND SUSTAINABLE RELEASE METHODS
“Once the catch is out of the water and you’ve taken your photos to brag about later, be sure to demonstrate proper release methods. If you plan to eat the fish, share what selective harvesting is and why it is important. If you decide to use live bait such as worms, be sure to show your kids that leftovers should be thrown into the garbage. Throwing them into the wilderness can unintentionally spread harmful species to the local habitat.”
“Buy a quality or spin-case combo between 3’6 and 5’. Lately, most major retailers like Sail, Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, carry fun cartoon-themed rods for under $30.”
TEACHING FISH SPECIES
“Right now is the best time for open water fishing. Most commonly we see Trout and Walleye, and then Bass and Carp come out late in May and early June. Most trout live in freshwater lakes and rivers, but there are a few expectations like the coastal rainbow trout, which can be found in the sea. Trout are an important food source for humans and wildlife like brown bears and birds of prey.
Walleye is also a freshwater fish native to most of Canada and the Northern United States. These are the fish that anglers brag about due to their size. They tend to be long and thin and gold and olive in colour with a white belly.
Bass fish is a term for several fish species known to put up a good fight which makes them interesting for anglers. They’re the most popular game fish in North America and can often be found in lakes, rivers, creeks and dams. They’re known for their large mouths.
Carp fish are a species of freshwater fish considered invasive in the United States. They’re often confused for catfish due to their whiskers, but catfish have more whiskers than carp and they tend to grow longer. The individual scales of a carp are larger than a catfish.”