The older I become, the more important simplicity is in all pursuits. Trying to prove oneself to the outside world is a younger man’s game. Fancy bass boats are great. Long range shooting with precision rifles is a rush. But for me, at this point, give me a lawn chair next to the lake or my grandpa’s old shotgun behind a bird dog with a few years under his collar. Add someone special to share the time, and I’ll find far greater satisfaction than any recognition or possession could ever provide.
My cousin, Mallory, gave birth to a baby boy last week. Her second child. Her older boy, Walker is three. I was able to visit the day Mallory and her family came home from the hospital. A two-day old baby lying in your arms will melt your heart, I don’t care how tough you are. But while most were swooning over his perfection, Walker and I slipped out into the woods to look for mushrooms and talk about the responsibilities of being a big brother.
As I explained to Walker the importance of sharing his toys and experiences with his new baby brother, he picked through the leaves and found some roly polies. He was mesmerized. And when I knelt down next to him and focused, I too became transfixed on the pure oddity of these tiny, yet incredibly complex, creatures. Walker helped me see something so simple through the eyes of child. And when we are able to do that, we’re able to see how big something so small can be.
There is really nothing comparable to introducing a child to the outdoors. To watch the wonder light up in their eyes as they feel and recognize a connection to nature is magical. I don’t think there is a more exciting way to hook a kid into the outdoors than by taking them fishing. When a kid is fighting a fish, and the fish is resisting, the kid is literally tied to the energy of that fish. It’s a physical connection. They can actually feel nature.
Hiking, biking, camping, wildlife watching, and more are all great opportunities for spending time with kids outside. All of those activities can certainly build a connection to nature. For me, though, it’s fishing. Fishing is my go-to when I want someone to love spending time outdoors. It’s easy to do and it’s easy to find success. Most people live close to somewhere they can fish.
Right now, just about every fish species is biting. As spring rolls into summer, the fishing will remain hot. You can fish from the shore and expect to catch, bluegills, crappie, bass, catfish and more. A very basic rod and reel will suffice. You don’t need anything fancy. Tie on a hook, squeeze on a sinker and clip on a bobber. For bait, worms will catch just about anything.
If you have a local lake, there is likely a park or another public common area where you can fish. If you have access to any farm pond or small private lake, those can be dynamite for this simple kind of fishing. Look for any areas along the shore where there is a tree fallen out in the water, or there are lily pads or cattails. You want to look for some kind of structure, natural or manmade, for fish to assimilate to. Pitch your bobber by that structure and wait. It shouldn’t take long.
I’ve ran the gamut of outdoor pursuits. And I still seek the extreme. I’m only a few months from my first trip to Africa. Yet, as I prepare to visit the Dark Continent and face a landscape filled with predators far my superior, I’m equally as excited to fish with Walker this summer for whatever will eat a worm. Maybe your life is running faster than you’d like. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself about needing to spend more time doing something that connects you to a child in your life, or a loved one of any age, for that matter. Fishing. I’m telling you, it’ll work.
See you down the trail…
by Brandon Butler