Paddle Power in January 2024

I have been fully aware of the impact of taking kids and young adults for some time on the water. It is the story of my life both personally and professionally. The sights, smells, time spent with loved ones and mentors alike all burn into memory banks and shape who you become. The water is a place to learn the acceptance of failure and the sweet taste of victory. There is some primal trigger that gets flipped when you head to the shore for a cast or jump on a boat and head out to chase whatever the water gives.

It happens to us all, but just so happens to be unconcealable in children. The amazement and wonder of what the next cast will bring, or the next critter seen will burst from them without control. It’s truly infectious and one of the best fringe benefits of my chosen career. One of the most important things to remember when introducing any young one to the water and angling, is keeping your time on the water engaging, light, and fun. For most young anglers, the experience of spending hours chasing some giant or glorious fish isn’t going to keep them interested and engaged. I tend to focus on fun easily caught fish and sprinkle in those opportunities at a “sea monster” to keep things interesting. Keep it simple and fun. Without a doubt some shrimp will be your best friend to make this happen. Small jobs will also let the youngsters feel as if they are part of the event and not a spectator. On a recent charter with Young Leo and his father Kevin (pictured) I got fully reminded of the amazing bond that fishing can bring and the amazing fishy-ness of an amazing young man. He did his research, his cast was on point, he hung on to every word and executed to the letter – Leo is six!

Fully engaged but still loved every hit big or small, and no doubt a waterman whose life will be shaped by the tides regardless of where he goes. Well done to that dad! Not every kid is a Leo, I was, but every kid will benefit from less distracting technology and more salt spray. If you enjoy the outdoors, take a kid, take several. If fishing isn’t your thing take a charter, learn something new yourself, or just reach out to a fishy neighbor.