Teaching a City Kid Fishing

It's kind of rare to find kids having an interest in fishing. Most of them want to play video games. 

Last year, I was volunteering at a fishing event sponsored by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation on the Hudson River near the George Washington Bridge by the red lighthouse. This fishing clinic event was to promote fishing in New York State waters - part of New York Governor Cuomo's "NY Open for Fishing and Hunting" Initiative. My tasks were to set up the fishing rods with fishing tackle, bait the hooks, unhook the fish caught, help kids how to cast, and untangle fishing line(s). 

(Hudson River, New York City)

There were many families with kids who were fishing for the first time. Most of them needed instructions and demonstrations on how to cast and retrieve using a spinning fishing rod. Since I was the most experienced volunteer with fishing, I stepped up on the plate to help and demonstrate. A mother and her son along with her friend with her kid needed help with getting their kids to fish. Her son, let's call him Alex, was very eager to fish. He wanted to fish and it was his first time to go fishing. The spinning rod and reel were bigger than his little hands and at least twice as tall as he was so I helped him cast the baited hook out on the Hudson River and handed the rod for him to fish. Alex's mom saw that I was attentive and helpful she took my number to call to help her son with fishing and she offered to pay for some fishing lessons. 

Almost a year has passed, she took Alex to a summer camp where he learned how to cast a fishing rod. She even bought him a spin-casting rod on Amazon.com. One day a few weeks ago, she texted me to help Alex with fishing and set up a date to go fishing with Alex. In preparation for the fishing day, she went to Capitol Fishing Tackle Company located midtown Manhattan and bought some terminal tackles (hooks and sinkers). Based on her experience with fishing on the Hudson River a year ago, she gave the information to the salesperson at the store to pick the tackles for her son. Perhaps she did not share that she bought her son a kid's spin-casting fishing rod and only knew that she would be fishing in the Hudson River again, the salesperson chose the tackle he/she thought would be appropriate.

(Harlem Meer Lake, Central Park, New York City

When we met near the lake at Harlem Meer in Central Park with her son, she showed me the tackle she bought for him. In his vinyl tackle box that looks like a lunch box, there was a pack of rigs for porgy fishing and a few 3 ozs lead sinkers. Those tackles were indeed right for the Hudson River if we were fishing for scup or porgy, but we were not fishing there. We were going to fish at the Harlem Meer Lake. I know there would be a lot of bluegills in the lake and maybe some bass. The porgy rig would work for the bluegills because the hook would be too big for them. Luckily, I bought some Gamakatsu octopus size 10 hooks and some split-shot sinkers with different weight. I mentioned to her that the porgy rigs and 3-oz lead sinkers should be used when she fishes with her son in the Hudson River. 

She didn't know the gauge of the fishing line, but it felt like at least a 10-lb monofilament. An experienced angler knows that to have a well-tuned fishing equipment everything must be in balance and in proportion - the fishing line, the fishing rod, the fishing reel, the hook, and the weight/sinker. This is key to having an effective cast, a sensitive feel, and a confident hook setting - adding to a total and excellent fishing experience. 

My split-shot weights were too light for his fishing line even with the 2.8" Hawg Shad on the hook. Since the tip-end was light, the cast was not as effective and it didn't reach as far as Alex wanted - winding up a few feet in front of him everytime he cast. Despite the short cast, he managed to cast into a shoal of bluegills and they were pecking at the Hawg Shad. Those bluegills were too small to engulf the Hawg Shad so we decided to switch to bread that he brought for snack. The bread could not stay on the hook long enough for him to set the hook quick enough before it dispersed as soon as it was in the water. Finally, we decided to use a piece of corn and that's when he started landing a bluegill one after another. Alex was elated when he caught his first bluegill. Congratulations, Alex! Here's his catch.


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