Fishing is fun, but watching 28 kids fish, some for the first time, is even more fun and I had a ball as a guest at a 4-H fishing camp. I doubt if every kid caught a fish, but I heard a lot of laughter so these young people had learned that even if you do not catch fish you can have a good time. I know I certainly enjoyed the time I spent with them.
As I said, some of the youngsters were fishing for the first time and I tackled a couple of world class line tangles. According to legend, Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot with his sword and I used a similar method with my pocket knife. It was easier to slash away the offending tangles and re-rig the fishing rods than to show the kids and counselors that I was not as patient as they thought I was.
The tackle used was a combination of cane poles, spincast reels and open face spinning reels. The variety of equipment made a good argument that cost is not a factor when it comes to fishing. None of the tackle was expensive, including the spinning rods and reels. Not only was this cost effective for a 4-H project, the same inexpensive tackle could be used for a family outing.
I was really impressed that the youngsters had made lures out of a hook, cork and some feathers. Some of them looked pretty basic, but I'll bet I could catch fish with them, as they would work well as a flyrod popper. I probably should have bought one and given it a try on bass. You never know when something like that could be the next hot bass lure.
In addition to making lures and fishing, the group also traveled to the Pymatuning fish hatchery. Of course no trip to Pymatuning is complete unless you feed the carp. That must have been a great field trip.
Lynn Guy was in charge of the event and she earned my respect, especially when she took my advice and bought some maggots for bait. Even better, she actually baited hooks for the kids. Now that is what I call dedication. How many ladies will skewer a maggot on a hook? How many men will even pick up a maggot? Lynn claims that she is not a "fisher person," but I think she would do quite well.
I often wonder if adults like Lynn realize the wonderful job they do, especially for those of us who enjoy outdoor activities. It seems that we are often under attack by people whose only contact with the outdoors is watching a Disney movie. Every young person who is helped to enjoy a day fishing or just enjoying nature is a point for our point of view. The participants in the 4-H fishing camp seemed about equally divided between boys and girls. It has always been my contention that the secret to our success is to recruit more young people and women.
Teaching 4-H kids that there is more to life than a video game is probably preaching to the choir, but sponsoring a fishing event for young people would be a great activity for any service club. The cost is minimal and the enjoyment is to the maximum.
More for kids
The Lisbon Eagles will sponsor the ninth annual Mike Conn kid's fishing derby on July 12 at the Guilford Lake ranger station. Registration will begin at 10 a.m. and fishing time will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The competition will be divided into age groups of 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15. Prizes for the most fish caught and the largest fish caught will be awarded in each age group. Please bring your own bait. There is no cost and refreshments will be provided.
For more information, call Mike Guappone at (330) 424-1958 or the Lisbon Eagles at (330) 424-3516.