(photo by Steve Weisman) The author’s grandson, Hunter with a nice bluegill taken on a Shuck’s Jigger Minnow.

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September 2, 2013 Comments (0) Fishing Notebook

Think small for small anglers

By John Hackett:

One of the biggest obstacles we face in getting kids interested in fishing is their short attention span.  Anyone who has kids knows how easily they get bored with stuff in general.  Fishing is no exception, especially when they aren’t catching anything.  Heck, even I get bored from it when I’m not catching anything!

One thing to consider when introducing someone new to fishing is if your particular body of water will produce the fast and furious action needed to keep their attention.  Experienced anglers always seem to cuss the farm ponds that are over run with stunted bluegills or green sunfish, but these ponds offer the type of action that will get beginners hooked on fishing.  Kids, and beginner adults for that matter, don’t care what they catch, or what size they are.  They just want to catch fish!

September is the perfect time of the year for catching bluegills.  This is grasshopper season in Northwest Iowa, and bluegills just can’t resist a fat, juicy grasshopper.  Worms work O.K. for bait, but you’ll find most fish will just peck at it.  Use a grasshopper and the bluegills will totally engulf it!  All you need for tackle is a hook and bobber.

You’re dealing with small fish, so you want to use a small hook.  About a size 6 works great for most bluegills.  Keep the bobber small too.  Use on just big enough to hold up your hook and grasshopper.  Fish the bait a couple feet below the bobber.  If the grasshopper doesn’t sink you may want to use a small split shot a few inches above the hook.

Toss your rig out just past a weed bed and get ready!  Bluegills will generally take the grasshopper within a few seconds of it hitting the water.  If nothing takes the bait right away, either re-cast or try adding a little movement to the bait by twitching the rod tip.  Casting parallel to a weed bed and using a slow retrieve also works well to add movement to catch a fish’s attention.

When a youngster does catch a fish it is important to make a big deal out of it.  Even if it is just a 2” bluegill, carry on like they just landed a 20 lbs. salmon.  Kids seem to need positive reinforcement on anything they do.  Calling the kid’s “prize catch” a piece of garbage, or something like that, then telling him to just toss it into the weeds doesn’t help.  Keep in mind that you are not out there to set world records; you’re just trying to get a kid

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