Helping Kids Discover the Magic and Joy of Fishing


Living along Little Pigeon Creek in southern Indiana as a child, gave me plenty of opportunity to fish. And going fishing with my father was one of my favorite things to do. I suppose only the excitement of waking up on Christmas morning could be compared to the excitement of going fishing.

Today many kids are glued to the TV, watching one program after another, playing video games, or even getting into trouble. I think a lot of parents are missing out on those special moments that both parent and child would remember for a lifetime.

When I was growing up, fishing was a very simple and relaxing activity. I remember waking up on a beautiful spring or summer morning, having breakfast (which usually consisted of milk gravy and homemade biscuits) and my father asking if I wanted to go fishing with him. I would run and get the shovel to help dig the worms, as my dad found an old tin can to put them in. We usually went behind my grandmother’s house or next to her chicken house to dig for the ‘fishin’ worms.’

With each scoop of dirt turned over, my eyes would search the clods as my father broke them apart with the shovel. Sometimes there would be none; sometimes only one or two. But when he hit a ‘good spot’ there would be several. As I picked the large red worms from the clods, my anticipation of the day’s fishing would grow. When we had fifty or so worms we would be ready to head down to the creek.

Back in the ’50s, most families lived a more simple life. There were no microwave ovens, home computers, video games or many of the things we take for granted now. We didn’t have a TV set until I was seven, inside plumbing until I was nearly ten or a phone until I was eleven.

To go fishing was a simple matter also. To start, you usually went to ‘the thicket’ and cut a small slender sapling for a fishin’ pole. A cork from a bottle was the bobber, and sometimes a small washer was used as a sinker. Very simple, but I caught a lot of fish.

It seems today people make things more complicated in every aspect of their lives. Now they need the latest reel, a hundred dollar rod and a vast assortment of artificial lures before they want to go fishing. Oh, and I forgot, they also need a $15,000 or $20,000 bass boat.

I never owned a store-bought cane pole until I was a teenager, and I was twelve before I had a rod and reel (for fishing on the bottom for catfish), and I don’t feel that I missed out on anything. When I went to the muddy banks of Little Pigeon Creek with my willow pole and a can of worms I was happy. My father would dig steps down the bank so he could easily reach the water to put in the stringer of fish we caught and so I would have a place to sit while fishing.

You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The stringer was made when we caught the first fish. A stringer was created by tying two short green sticks to a piece of fishing line Then after threading the shortest stick through the mouth and gills of the fish, it was placed in the water and the long stick was shoved into the bank.

However, before this, I would thread a wiggling worm onto my hook. Then tossing the line into the water, I would anchor the pole by sticking it into the muddy bank, sit back and wait for a bite.

As a small child, the creek looked wide and deep and I would sit on the second or third step from the water. Every time I got a bite, I would be filled with excitement. I loved fishing, but I remember I also was also a little afraid. I was afraid that I would catch a giant fish that would pull me in under the muddy water, and I would be lost in the deep, dark depths of a murky grave. While fishing we would often hear a huge splash upstream where a giant fish had come to the surface. Then as we looked upstream, we would see large waves rippling across the creek where he had been.

There were very large fish in the creek because it flowed directly into the mighty Ohio River. Catfish weighing over 40 pounds had been caught, and my father once saw an enormous alligator gar nearly 10 feet long lying beside his boat. There were also huge snapping turtles in the creek and I could see in my mind a giant turtle on my line pulling me into the water. Therefore, when I got a bite I was glad my father was close by.

Once I did get a bite from a large fish, and as I pulled it up, I was barely able to get it out of the water. The fish was lying on the bank at the edge of the water as my dad ran to get it. I stood there trembling from the excitement as he put the fish on the stringer.

Why am I reminiscing about my early years as a child? Because sometimes when we get older, we forget how a child sees and feels things, and how exciting things are when we first experience them. These memories I have as a child, keep the excitement alive each time I pick up my pole to go fishing with my boys.

I like the solitude of fly fishing by myself sometimes, but there is something special when you take your children along and they catch a fish. You can relive the excitement through your children.

As soon as it’s warm enough in the spring, there is no better time to have fun with your kids. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get started. Buy or cut a cane pole, get some string (I like the limp braided nylon) a bobber or cork, and some long shank, number 6 or 8 hooks. (You need a small hook so bluegills can get it in their mouth, and you need a long shank so you can get it back out). Then find a pond, lake, creek, river or stream, and take your kids fishing. Remember to show the children how to handle hooks safely and be careful handling the fish, for their fins can cause considerable pain. Bring plenty of bait, a stringer and you may want to bring a camera to capture their first fish on film. And have fun; that’s what it’s all about.