This weekend, June 2 and 3, marks the annual Nova Scotia Sport Fishing Weekend. On this weekend residents, and non-residents, may fish without the requirements of a general sport fishing licence.
All other regulations such as bag limits, continue to apply. If you have never fished, or if it is a few years since you bought a fishing licence, this weekend is a good opportunity to get back in the water. It is also a great opportunity to introduce young anglers to the sport. At a time when nature, and the many threats facing it, are more important than ever it is a sad fact that we are spending less and less time outside experiencing it.
In my opinion sport fishing is a great way to introduce young anglers not only to nature, and the aquatic world, but also to a lifelong sport. Sport fishing and kids are a great combination as children have a natural curiosity, combined with a sense of adventure, which is important for all anglers. These days, with increased concerns about getting children physically active, sport fishing can also play an important role in getting them outside. In addition spending time in the outdoors exposes them to the natural world and the importance of clean air and water for both us and the fish.
When you introduce children to sport fishing it is important to remember some key points:
Start Simple- A short trip, close to home is a good way to introduce them to sport fishing. It is important to make sure the kids are comfortable. Cold weather, rain and flies can sour any new angler on the sport. Try to pick your days so you will have a good time on the water.
Use Simple Equipment- Equipment which is easy for a child to operate is essential if they are going to enjoy the trip. A spinning rod with a bobber and bait is hard to beat. Both are easy to use, as well as effective, and they will be able to cast with it in a very short period of time.
Safety-Safety is always a priority when on, or near the water. This is even more important when fishing with children. While everyone knows they need life jackets when fishing from a boat they should also be part of your child’s fishing equipment when shore fishing near deep or fast-moving water. Sun screen, sunglasses and insect repellent should also be part of your equipment.
Make Sure They Have Fun- When you go fishing and don’t catch anything it can be pretty discouraging, especially for a young angler. Try to stack the odds in your child’s favour by fishing where you have a good chance of catching something. This may be a perch lake or a stocked trout pond.
Take Your Time- Slowing down to fish with your children will let you see many things that you might miss in your race to get to the next trout pool. Birds, frogs, salamanders, minnows and dragonflies are all part of the angling experience. Seeing nature through a child’s eyes can help remind us why we want to be outside in the first place. With all the pressures on everyone these days it is often an effort to find the time. Make the effort; you will be rewarded many times over.
A welcome change to the Nova Scotia regulations this year involves young anglers aged 16 and 17. Beginning this season they are no longer required to purchase either a general, or salmon sport fishing licence. They will be required to pick up a fishing licence, along with a regulation booklet, but there will be no charge. Hopefully this will keep young people sport fishing for a few more years and help ensure they will continue in the sport as they get older.
Don MacLean is an outdoor writer and biologist who lives in Pictou County.