| Editor's note: John Kolinski is the 2002 Professional Walleye
Trail Angler of the Year, the 2003 Illinois River RCL winner
and a 17-time championship qualifier. He is the only anger to
fish the PWT and B.A.S.S. at the same time. His articles can
be read in numerous Midwestern outdoor publications and at several
web sites. Kolinski is sponsored by Triton Boats, Mercury Motors,
Lowrance Electronics, Yo-Zuri fishing line, Normark/Storm Lures,
MinnKota, Lindy Legendary Tackle, Tempress Rod Holders, Off-Shore
Planer Boards, Optima Batteries and Panther Marine.
|It doesn't come with a four-digit price tag, it doesn't come
with a shiny finish, and it doesn't come wrapped in a box with
a bow. You can't bank it, drive it, wear it, build it, eat it,
frame it, trade it or sell it.
It's something you can share with friends and family. It's something
you can pass on to the next generation. It's something that
defines individuals and builds character. And it's something
that can make a difference in a modern world that moves too
fast and offers too many temptations.
Fishing is a gift that lasts a lifetime.
I'm one of the lucky ones. My dad is a fisherman, and it became
a focal point of my life at an early age.
When I look back on my childhood, I don't think about hitting
home runs, fights with my brother, childhood crushes or video
games. I think about fishing.
I think about the family vacations we took in northern Wisconsin
each summer. I remember how much I used to look forward to those
||I think about catching bluegills off the docks. I think
about the lessons I learned in aquatic biology and river
dynamics. I remember things like turtles trying to steal
fish off a stringer, seagulls swooping close to the boat
to snatch a discarded minnow and the steamy snort of a
I will never forget the first time I was allowed to take
the boat down the channel to a small grocery store on
the water. I don't remember if I was sent for milk or
bait, but I remember the sense of responsibility and independence
I felt with my hand on the throttle of that 3-hp engine
that powered our 12-foot boat.
Nor will I forget the first time I set out across the
lake on my own. It seemed so enormous then, but in reality
I was never out of sight of our cottage. Sometimes, I
think about the day a big northern took possession of
a battle-scarred, one-of-a-kind, frog-patterned Heddon
plug I only pulled out for special occasions. I never
found another like it.
I think about the giant fish we did catch and a handful
of days when we felt like the world's greatest anglers
I think about my first walleye tournament, and I think about
the satisfaction of my first victory.
More and more, however, I find myself thinking about what so
many people are missing, and especially today's youth. The number
of young anglers today is declining, and it's up to those of
us with a passion for the sport to help reverse that trend.
There are many reasons for the declining number of anglers.
Today's kids are more wrapped up in television and video than
ever. Many are into year-round sports programs. Far too many
are into less desireable and even dangerous activities, as well.
Adult lives are busier than ever, too. A growing number of families
don't make the time for family activities. Today's fuel prices
may be a factor, too, when considering fishing vacations.
It doesn't have to be that way.
Opportunities to fish are everywhere. It's simply a matter of
taking advantage of them. It doesn't have to be time-consuming
or expensive. In fact, June is a month when many states offer
free fishing weekends when license requirements are waived,
the weather is beautiful and most species of fish are accessible
If you are new to the sport, take a basic approach. Complicated
and expensive tackle isn't required. The idea is to get out
and enjoy the outdoors and the tug of a fish on your line or
that of a child, parent or grandparent.
For a few bucks, you can purchase a Zebco Quantum rod and reel
combination that will put a smile on the face of almost any
youngster. Add a few hooks, bobbers, split shot and bait, and
you are set up to catch everything from panfish to bass, catfish
and perhaps even walleye.
Pick a destination that is easily accessible from shore, and
one that is loaded with fish. When the kids choose to stop fishing,
it's important that it's because they're tired of catch fish,
not because they're bored. Teach them how to cast, how to tie
knots, how to identify fish and how different species prefer
different habitat and food.
It doesn't matter how big the fish are during those first experiences.
Put the foundation in place, then build on it. Next time out,
try casting for bass or northerns or jigging for walleyes. Try
new bodies of water. Wade a stream for smallmouth. Rent a canoe
or a boat.
Turn those days into family outings. Grill some burgers and
brats. Play catch with the kids. Toss a frisbee for the dog.
Sunbathe or swim. For a real taste of the outdoors, consider
a shore lunch.
If you're completely uncomfortable serving as host for a fishing
outing, consider taking your guests on a guided trip where all
the expertise, tackle and bait is provided.
For $200 or $300, you can enlist the services of a professional
who knows exactly where to go and what to do. Charter fishing
trips for trout and salmon on the Great Lakes are an ideal option
for larger groups, and nothing can compare to the thrill of
doing battle with a 20-pound salmon.
Maybe it's time to pay back those who introduced you to fishing,
whether that's parents, grandparents or neighbors who are no
longer comfortable venturing out by themselves.
Maybe there's a brother or sister who has always wanted to try
muskie fishing. Maybe it's a parent who has never caught an
8-pound walleye. Maybe there's a friend or relative with children
of their own who want to learn the art of angling so they can
pass it on to their kids.
If you are fortunate enough to own a well-equipped boat, take
new anglers with you. Kids, in particular, are fascinated by
today's technology and will be glued to the Lowrance sonar unit
or the underwater camera. I've also thrilled a few with a 60
mph ride in my Mercury-powered Triton 215X.
These days, few families share the fishing tradition. It's not
too late to get started, and June is the perfect month. While
they may not agree at present, someday your kids will thank
And chances are, they'll turn out to be good kids, too. I can't
think of many anglers who aren't also good citizens and good
So get going. Few things in life are forever. Fishing is one
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