Many adult anglers began their passion for fishing when they were youngsters fishing with a family member or friend. Time spent near the water brings back memories of successes and well as some failures, but all were learning experiences. Some of these adult fisherman are willing to teach young people of all ages to fish and pass along their wisdom of the sport. One of the necessities needed for success is bait. There’s no need for fear from this since most baits are very user friendly no matter what the person’s age.
Night crawlers, or worms, are one of the first baits normally used because of a ritual perpetuated. Many warm nights after a summer rain are prime time for a parent or friend and child, with flashlight in hand, to search the driveway or under rocks and boards for Canadian Crawlers or red wigglers. Other good places to find these are in leaves that have become wet and packed on the ground. Canadian crawlers are a large worm with a barrel shape just prior to the end. The biggest ones have flat, broader end. Red wigglers are dark reddish brown and uniformly shaped from end to end. Both make excellent baits for pan fish, such as blue gill or sun fish, as well as cat fish and bass. If either are left after a fishing trip, they can be kept for quite awhile in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator. Put them in a container with small ventilation holes in damp soil with a little shredded newspaper, but make sure the lid is on tight or you may find a worm in your lettuce. If purchased, the container they come in is generally sufficient.
Another type bait that older children may like to try are crawfish. These must be handled a little more carefully because of the lobsterlike pinchers they have, but they are also a very popular bait. Grasping them behind the eyes so they can’t reach behind to grab skin is the best way to pick them up. Some people may have access to a shallow riverbed and use a large net called a seine to catch them if there is a multitude of them. Children can be entertained by their movement which is rapidly shooting backwards when they try to hide. Other fish like these, but catfish are especially fond of them since they are bottom feeders. Crawfish are typically found scurrying near the bottom of rivers and ponds where there are rocks to hide under.
Of course, there are also artificial baits which resemble their live counterparts. Worms, frogs, grasshoppers, and crickets all come in rubbery versions and can be sprayed with fish attractant if desired. These can be useful tools to learn with before trying to put a live creature on a hook. Some children are also squeamish about live baits so this is a more acceptable way to them.
For children learning to jig, artificial lures resembling flies and other insects, are great to use. The instructor can explain the differences in how fish are attracted due to the direction of their mouth. If a large mouth bass is caught it can be quite fun to see the reaction to the size of the mouth and sometimes it’s contents. They may eat anything including other fish. Some lures floating on the surface will cause a fish, like a smallmouth bass, to jump out of the water to catch it as it draws nearer to the fishing pole.
Each type of bait is safe for kids, but as with handling any live creature, hand washing is very important after a fishing expedition. Placement equipment back into tackle boxes should also be part of safety measures to prevent unnecessary injury and willingness to go fishing again. Bait should be properly cared for by releasing or storing for another time.