Creating A Family Tradition

It started with angling and now is fly fishing

On The Fly Freshwater

April 2023

By Patrick Mawhinney

Years ago, as my daughter was growing up, she caught the fishing bug and we began to fish together as often as possible. One Christmas she got her first set of waders and we proceeded to head to the Chattahoochee River for some trout fishing.

We did catch some fish but more to the point was the time spent together. She is in Colorado now, is still my fishing buddy and now her daughter has joined the piscatorial sisterhood and brotherhood. Whenever we can get together, we try to always schedule a bit of fishing.

The author and his daughter in the beginning.

Whenever I’m out fishing with any of the kids, I am reminded of my first memory of actually going fishing. I was around 4 years old and dad would pack up the car with our cane poles, bobbers and bait, some Coca Colas, Sunbeam bread and Vienna (or as we used to call them Vienner) Sausages.

My sister and I would pile in the car and head out to Oak Mountain State Park outside Birmingham, Alabama and arrive at our secret fishing hole. It always seemed like a long way and very far out in the country, which in a way it was back then. Looking back now, I’m sure everyone knew of this “secret hole,” but it was our secret hole!

The tiny fishing hole resided at the bottom of a large spillway below the upper lake and was filled with the usual assortment of 2- to 3-inch sunfish and bluegill. We would put our bait, which consisted of bread balls, on the small hooks and proceed to catch fish after fish. After our lunch of bread, vienner sausages and coca cola, we would pack up and head back to the house.

Now I have the unfettered joy of being able to take my grandson son, who just turned 11, and his mom and dad fishing from time to time. This previous Christmas I bought the grandson his first pair of waders, so that we could better explore the fishy waters of Georgia and beyond.

We headed to the Chattahoochee as soon as we could, to try out the new waders and see if the trout would cooperate. It didn’t take long for him to start exploring and flipping rocks. Fishing became secondary to the goal of the day, which was, of course, having fun. And he had his priorities right.

A very important lesson I had to learn when fishing with kids is to let them enjoy the day, whether it involves fishing or simply playing in the water and exploring. I must remember that everyone does not love fishing to the extent that I embrace it.

I think adults can get caught up in the fishing aspect of the day and forget why they are really there. Forcing the kids to fish when they would rather just play, can turn them away from angling. They know the real reason they are there is to have fun.

It’s all about the fun!

If that means catching some fish or just hanging out and flipping over rocks and chasing minnows, that’s alright We, as adults, can learn from the youngsters. They know how to play and know that is the important part of the day. We forget that and get caught up in “adulting” and it is a shame.

Enjoy your kids and remember to learn from them. They are the experts when it comes to play and can help you remember what you may have forgotten. Playing is a vital part of your well-being.