By Barry W. Smith
Many of our pond owners seem overly concerned about their bass. Are the threadfin shad going to spawn in March and how soon will they catch a bass that weighs more than 10 pounds? They appear to overlook one of the primary advantages of having a pond…bringing the family together and teaching our youth how to fish and to be stewards of our fish and wildlife resources.
We should never forget the importance of outdoor activities with the family. What can be more enjoyable than fishing at the pond? Regardless of the size of the pond or lake, a clean bank or a pier, combined with an automatic fish feeder is a recipe for a delightful outing with family and friends. Hooking a big coppernose bluegill with an ultra light or a cane pole is an experience most kids will want to repeat. Whether you are using live bait, such as a cricket or wiggler, or artificials, such as a 1/32 oz. jig or a hook with a golden raisin, the tug of a big bluegill weighing a half to one pound creates permanent memories in most young minds. Truthfully, most of us adults relish that experience… it’s just fun!
In the opinion of many, big bluegills provide ideal fishing opportunities for a family outing. I can recall many fishing experiences with my Grandpa during summer vacations. We would grub for wigglers beneath a rotten log, catch grasshoppers in the field or knock down a wasp nest beneath the barn eve, just to get bait to fish for bluegill. Somewhere in the antiquated hard drive of my mind, I can still picture that quill slipping beneath the pond’s surface, disappearing with a bluegill on the other end of the line. You can create similar memories for your kids or grand kids with those big bluegills in your pond.
What a great opportunity to teach kids and grandkids how to fish. A well-managed bass/bluegill pond shortens the time between bites and captures the attention of kids. Casting an artificial lure with an ultra light or learning to swing the bait and bobber with a cane pole, are building blocks for a lifetime of fishing experiences. There is no better place to teach these skills than at your pond, in front of an automatic fish feeder with a hundred hungry bluegills poised to attack whatever hits the water. This can quickly lead to casting for bass and can eventually create a young bass fishing partner to fish with you on the back deck of your Ranger. If you start that youngster out in the Ranger…well, that’s a different story.
Ponds are outdoor classrooms:
The pond can be the perfect outdoor classroom to teach the mechanics of fishing…tying a knot, baiting a hook, adjusting a float, casting a lure, removing a fish from the hook, or even preparing the fish for an evening meal. There are countless lessons to be taught and carried with our youth throughout their lifetimes.
The pond provides much greater educational opportunities than fishing; it is an example of how proper management and stewardship result in renewable recreational resources. You can teach young people the responsibilities of stewardship and the management efforts, such as fertilization, weed control, supplemental feeding and selective harvest that are necessary to achieve excellent fishing.
As a land/pond owner, you should be responsible for building the next generation of fish and wildlife stewards… the GameKeepers of the future. This spring your pond can provide an excellent opportunity to begin class.