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Posted In: Features, Fishing

The secret to building a young fisherman

April 9, 2014 11:09am

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want their kid to enjoy fishing. The peace and quiet, the beautiful settings, the ability to spend quality time together with no electronic devices – fishing has it all from a parent/kid standpoint. But, let’s be honest, getting a kid to like fishing as much as you do – or even just enough to get them out the door and on a boat – is often easier said than done.

It's smiles all around when the lines are tight.

It’s smiles all around when the lines are tight.

They get “bored” if they don’t catch something in the first three casts. Or they don’t like being wet. Or they’re hungry.

Luckily, there’s a solution: Shad fishing in downtown Richmond from late March to early May. Sure it’s temporary, but shad fishing is a great way to get the kids outside and probably the best way in this area to get something consistently pulling on the other end of the line – the key to getting kids hooked (so to speak). And you can do it from the bank or a boat.

When it comes to taking kids fishing, I always gravitate toward lures that can be tossed out and reeled straight in without a lot of unnecessary finesse. Most shad baits are perfect for that.

The most kid-friendly rigs are shad darts and spoons. They are best fished on a medium to light spinning rod with 6 to 10 pound test.

My favorite rig is to run the line through a ¼ ounce egg slip sinker and tie the tag end to a swivel. Attach about 18 inches to two feet to the other side of the swivel and tie on a shad dart or spoon. The line from the swivel to the dart or spoon should be rather stiff and a little heavier gauge. If I am running 8-pound test to the swivel from the reel, I will go with something like 12-pound test from the swivel to the spoon or dart. The thicker, stiffer line is most important when fishing a spoon to avoid line twist.

Shad fishing (not pictured) this time of year is one of the best ways to keep kids catching fish.

Shad fishing (not pictured) this time of year is one of the best ways to keep kids catching fish.

From there it is just a matter of casting across the current and commencing with a slow to medium retrieve, depending on the depth and current.

Then just hang on when they bite.

One thing I have learned out there is that you can’t be afraid to move. Sometimes a matter of 10 yards can be the difference between catching them hand over fist and not getting a bite.

As for color of spoons and darts, if you aren’t catching them on one then switch to another color. I generally start with a silver spoon, then switch to gold and finally chartreuse if I need to. If one of these colors doesn’t work, you are in the wrong spot or the fish just aren’t around.

The white perch will show up soon as well and they certainly prefer a curly tailed grub or shad dart over the spoons.

About Tee Clarkson

Tee Clarkson is the Outdoors Columnist for the Richmond Times Dispatch, teaches English in Henrico County, owns Virginia Fishing Adventures and Virginia Outside summer camps, and in his spare time somehow finds time to get outside with his wife and kids.