Passing on the Tradition of Fishing
Editors Note: Planet Joe is an occasional guest feature written by Joe Greco. He is a NYS licensed guide fishing part-time with Justy-Joe sportfishing charters (visit newyorkfishing.com ). He also works full-time as a production manager at Skidmore College and lives in Saratoga county with his two children Charlotte and Avery.
In the technologically advanced era we live in, fishing rods and mud-stained overalls have been replaced by smartphones, iPad and video games in many American households. Taking kids outside to experience fishing, hunting or any outdoor activity for that matter is becoming less prevalent every year. We are very blessed to live in an area rich with outdoor opportunity and we should embrace that. As a fishing guide, and a parent, I am eager to spend time sharing the art of fishing with kids and getting them excited about the outdoors.
When I was a kid fishing was a way of life.
My father, owner/operator of Justy-Joe Charters sport fishing (newyorkfishing.com), took me all over the place on destination trips. Camping in the Adirondacks and chasing native brook trout, on Lake Champlain for fall trout/salmon fishing, and the Long Island Sound for multiple species were just a few of the many trips we have taken. As a Captain on Lake George, he took me with him as the “first mate” all the time. He taught me how to run downriggers and bounce the bottom for Lake trout.
He also taught me a lot about people. How to relate to different kinds of people, show them a good time and make them feel comfortable on the boat. This, I learned, is the real key to being a good Captain especially when the fish don’t cooperate!
As a youngster living in rural Saratoga County, I grew up stomping around the muddy banks of the Snook Kill chasing brown trout. Today’s generation may not have the privilege of coming home muddy, exhausted and with worm dirt under their finger nails! Unless, we take them whenever possible – and as soon as they are able.
I strongly believe engaging kids in outdoor activities gives them a good foundation in life. The observations they make teach them that there’s a whole other world going on out in nature. For a child, it can be very grounding to witness these forces and experience life at its purest form. In every lake, pond and river, the food chain is in full swing. Predator and prey, the age old relationship between the hunter and the hunted. There are no rules in the wild and only the fit will survive. Mother Nature is a ruthless force and will not coddle any of her creatures! This can be very humbling to witness, and can be demonstrated through fishing as a big fish takes your bait and tugs at the end of your line.
The most important thing when introducing kids to the sport is to pick a good day weather-wise and don’t go for too long. Anything that’s interactive will be your best method, such as a worm and bobber or any small lures they can pick out by themselves and keeping them busy casting, are two good options. Also, start them young! My older daughter was two when I first took her fishing. We caught some small pan fish off the town dock at Ballston Lake and she had a blast. I think it was about a half hour and I could tell she had enough and then we went home. It was just enough to introduce her to the experience and get her excited to be outside.
There are some great opportunities locally to “wet a line” without too much walking or the need for a boat. The steel pier on Lake George is a great spot in the summer months. It can be accessed off beach road in Lake George Village. You can catch a variety of species there such as bass, sunfish, perch and an occasional northern pike. Stop into Fish307.com on your way and they will hook you up for success. The state launch on Saratoga Lake is another great option in the summer and in the spring time Anglers frequently catch Black Crappie, Sunfish and Bass as well.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous check out Moreau Lake State Park. It is stocked liberally with rainbow trout and has some decent bass fishing as well. They have row boat rentals and provide all the necessary safety equipment, so if you’re looking to get out on the water and don’t have a boat, this is a great option. For other trout fishing opportunities be sure to check the NYS stocking schedule which will point you in the right direction. Some great fishing action can be had for kids in many local ponds and streams the first few days after the fish are released.
If your child is interested in fishing and you just don’t know where to begin, another option is taking a charter. We love having kids out on our boats and take pride in showing them fishing at its finest. Whether it be helping them catch their first fish or their biggest fish, we give every trip 100%. We work hard to put fish in the boat and smiles on faces. Last year, I had a client out from the Northville area on the Sacandaga Lake and he had never caught a walleye before. After caching a bunch of walleyes and a few dandies he was all smiles, and you could tell he was hooked for life. His father sent me a text message later on in the evening saying the trip was all he talked about for the rest of the day. That is what taking kids fishing is all about!
So remember, start them young and keep them busy. Make sure the weather is pleasant and don’t overdo it. If you are interested in a guided trip check us out at newyorkfishing.com. We are a multi-species fleet targeting lake trout, salmon, bass, walleye and pretty much anything else you can think of that has gills! Good luck out there and thanks for reading!
March 30, 2017