Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Time to Teach

Caughdenoy resident Gerald Donegan holds son Robert's first largemouth bass.

Under the proper conditions, kids'll take to fishing like minnows to water. And the best time to get them hooked on this exciting, lifetime activity is right now.

You see, a youngster's attention span lasts as long as the fish are hitting. When they clam up, everything else that's going on takes center stage. Peepers peeping, frogs croaking, turtles basking, heron's fishing, all become distractions. While lessons in nature are good things, the object is to keep the child focused on catching fish.

And that's easiest and cheapest to do from now through mid-June. You see, spring raises water temperatures, triggering warmwater species into spawning mode. By now, some like northern pike, walleyes and perch have done the deed and are basking--and feeding--in the shallows.

Others like sunfish, bass, catfish, and carp are just getting started. This draws them to muddy flats and weed beds near shore, within easy reach of bank anglers. (Bass season opens the third Saturday in June. Right now bass season is catch and release only, with artificial lures.)

Equally productive habitats right now are tributary mouths and rapids. Fish that have just spawned are famished and tired. Since current carries food, all they have to do is rest on bottom or behind structure and open their mouths.

The best bait to use depends on the species you're targeting. For instance, if you're specifically going for crappies, northerns or pickerel, minnows will work best. However, if you're just out to have a good time and don't care what you catch, worms will do.

Make the experience visual by using a bobber. Not only does it allow you to see the bite, it keeps you out of rocks and other snags. Stick with the smallest bobber you can so the fish feels the least resistance possible.

If you'd rather not handle live bait, try lures. The best, all around bait is a bucktail jig. A jighead flavored with a YUM or Powerbait grub (1- to 2-inchers for panfish, 3-inchers for pike and walleyes) works well, too. Or try crankbaits like Rat-L-Traps, Smithwick, Rogues, Bombers and Rapalas, working them just fast enough to give them some action.

Oswego County is loaded with productive, shallow water habitats. Look at a map and you'll see a web of fishing spots. Just pick a city, village or hamlet on water, and rest assured it has public access.

Then add a kid with a fishing pole and watch the fun begin.

For more information go to or call 800-248-4386 and request an Oswego County Hunting & Fishing guide.

Daughter's first fish.
Granddaughter's first fish.

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