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Getting Kids on the Water

May 26, 2015

By Chris Erwin

Every year there comes a perfect time to get budding fishermen on the water. It could be your kids, the neighborhood children or even your spouse.

That time is fast approaching, and they are some key dates that you may want to remember.

If you want to break someone into fishing the worst thing you can do is take them, put them in the back of your bass boat and let them watch you cast for bass all day — especially if they are kids.

Over the years I have broken many children, women and newbie men into the sport of fishing, and one thing is common with all of them: If you want them to love this sport, they need to have some quick action. Once the desire is there to catch fish, long dry spells between catches can be much easier to overcome.

For this reason, I suggest breaking your kids in by going bluegill fishing. Once indoctrinated to the fun of catching fish, it’s time to move up to Crappie and then bass or Muskie.

Let’s get back to these dates and why they can be important to quick success. The Lepomis Macrochirus, or “Bluegill,” as it is known by its common name, has some characteristics that make it more predicable than other species of fish common to our waters.

The Redear Sunfish is one of the first to spawn and the easiest to catch, when we see water temperatures move through the 60s. (photo submitted)

The Redear Sunfish is one of the first to spawn and the easiest to catch, when we see water temperatures move through the 60s. (photo submitted)

For one, unlike Bass they have no problem feeding while they are nesting. This bunches them up and makes them easy to find and catch.

Tip: Bluegill starts to nest five days before the first full moon once the water temperature reaches approximately 70 degrees. Bluegills tend to nest in water two to 10 feet deep on sandy hard bottoms, old roadbeds or around submerged timber in shallow water. Wearing good sunglasses and looking for saucer-like indentions on the bottom of the lake can often reveal their nests. There will be many nests almost touching each other.

May 4 was the most recent full moon and in some locations, this spring ritual has already started. However, in Eastern Kentucky cold rains and flooding have made May hard to have the success. We sometimes see this early. Stained, dirty water also makes it hard to see nesting sites. Making it more of a challenge to find nesting sites.

Our next full moon will be June 2. Bluegill will nest every month until October so this bonanza gives you more than one chance to capitalize on this seasonal, monthly event.

You need to use light tackle including six to eight pound fishing line. You can use the lighter line, but if you’re breaking in kids, you will do a lot less retying if you use a little heavier line but Bluegill during this time are so aggressive that a larger line size shouldn’t be a problem.

I also use live bait when I’m taking children who are new fishing. Once they become more skilled I try to switch them over to small jigs, which will give them the confidence to move up to crappie and bass.

I have had days where children caught fish every cast. This can hook a child on fishing for life and give them the persistence to spend the time to learn to cast.

Bluegills are in almost every body of water in Kentucky. They all nest and follow the same pattern, making them one of the best ways to introduce a child to a sport that can last a lifetime. I am testament to that very fact.

Make plans now and help put a child on the right path to fall in love with the outdoors.

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