I remember the first time I caught a fish for dinner. I was eight years old, standing on the edge of the Blackfoot River in Montana, nothing but the clear gurgling river and bright meadows tumbling into lush forests. The fish in my hand was a rainbow trout, some eight inches long, caught light and gentle on a wooly bugger. I remember the feel of his slick skin and strong muscles and sharp little teeth, and the way he reflected all the colors in the world back at me. He was beautiful. That night, my father proudly pan-fried my catch in garlic and butter, and I am sure I have tasted a meal as good, but never better. I ate with relish—and the ultimate respect.
When a child is given a rod and the opportunity to catch and eat their own fish, they are given an invaluable lesson. That timeless process, from that first cast to the full belly, imparts a knowledge that goes beyond any biology or nutrition lesson. It gives your child the opportunity to truly understand where their food comes from. There are endless benefits to this, but to name just a few:
• They are more likely to care about where what they’re eating came from. To question what is in a twinkie, or a hotdog.
• It teaches them to be thankful for every bite, making them more likely to finish their meals and less likely to overeat. With childhood obesity rates at 18%, this can be a positive preventative.
• Any fish-wary kid is guaranteed to be won over by the opportunity to eat their own catch. And once they’ve got a taste for heart-healthy fish . . .
In addition to this increased awareness around what food is and its journey to our plate, a child who experiences bringing home the family dinner gains priceless confidence. Confidence radiates from one part of life into all the rest, and given the chance its seeds take root and flourish in the fertile minds of our children. The confidence our child builds learning to fish will shine through in everything she does.
Consider the importance of sharing these experiences with your children during next year’s fishing season. There’s so much kids can learn while they fish, all while spending quality time with the family outdoors. Visit takemefishing.org to help prepare your family for fun on the water next year.