By Nick Simonson
Everything moves faster in summer. Kids on bikes zip down the hill in front of my house with lightning speed. The days, despite being longer, disappear into the blur of humidity and haze of a hot day, filled with activity that barely allows a second to catch a deep breath of sweet summer air. The angling too, is as fast as it will ever be at any point in the year, as panfish and game fish of all species feed aggressively. Finding that point where the fast-moving kids, fast-disappearing days and fast-biting fish intersect and taking advantage of it is important in recruiting the next generation of anglers, but there’s no better time than the middle of summer to do so. Pencil off a few evenings to help slow things down and build a bond with a new angler, and foster his or her growth in the outdoors.
Getting kids on fish is important in connecting them with nature and conservation; getting them on hungry ones helps build an even stronger connection at the outset of their experiences. Early success is what creates that link between the next generation and the outdoors, so targeting fish that are easier to catch in summer – such as bluegills on a small jig and piece of crawler, schooling white bass with an easily-cast jig and twister, or even hammer handle pike along a weed edge with a trolled spoon – will spur excitement and continued attention on a particular trip which can create a lifetime of interest in fishing. Targeting easy-to-catch fish should be the first focus of any summer trip designed to hook novices on the experience.
That’s not to say that a trip for walleyes won’t work in recruiting new anglers, or explaining the finer points of fishing docks for largemouth bass can’t build the same bond, or waiting for an evening stack of slab crappies to fire up isn’t worth it. Working the timing of a hot bite for these typically selective game fish, and the more nuanced methods sometimes needed to catch them, may add to the complexity of tying a new angler to the experience, but don’t write these options off entirely if the knowledge is there and the opportunity is too. Sometimes landing that one big fish or cracking a new code on the water helps add to the experience for new anglers who are more advanced in age and can pick up on the tactics, or those who have been at it for a few years and are looking to add to their repertoire and angling experiences.
Whatever the pursuit, summer provides the best chance for new and developing anglers to catch fish, not only due to the hungry nature of nearly all species foraging at the height of nature’s bounty, but also as a result of the conditions that make it so much easier to enjoy an evening in the boat or a trip to a productive stretch of shoreline. Without the chill of an unstable spring, or the sometimes fickle bite that comes in the later stretches of the openwater season, the conditions align to support on the water adventures. Beyond a shot of sunscreen and some insect repellent, little is needed in terms of clothes or special gear to get young anglers out on the water in a comfortable fashion, so take advantage of the option for a fast departure and a quick fishing trip, as these days allow. Once the passion builds with the warmth of these easy-to-enjoy conditions, it’ll be tough to discourage the growing die-hard angler from venturing out in less hospitable conditions.
In this seemingly brief time where these factors align and before summer begins to fade, make it a point to select a few nights to take new anglers out. Whether it’s your kids or grandkids, neighborhood youth, or perhaps an adult friend that is interested in getting into angling, or reigniting their passion for the pursuit, make the effort to connect someone new with the life-changing experience that fishing can provide, because now is the best time to do so.
Featured Photo: The author’s son, AJ inspects a bluegill. Summertime provides the perfect intersection of active kids, active fish and nice weather for experienced anglers to share what they know with the next generation. Simonson Photo.