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MC1 07-09-2010 11:16 AM

Taking youngsters fishing
As a new stream fisherman and someone who's new to this message board, let me first apologize if I placed this under the wrong heading. Secondly, let me introduce myself: I am a longtime fly fisherman, mainly ponds and lakes around the house in KY where I grew up. It's only been recently that I took up fly fishing on streams and I'm now admittedly "obsessed," as my wife likes to describe it. I've read Jim's book cover to cover and refer to it anytime I plan a trip to the mountains from my home in S.C.

My question: Is there any advice from others who have been stream fishing longer than I have who can give me pointers on taking a 4-year-old stream fishing? I would assume it's simply a matter of finding an accessible stream and fishing from the bank while he plays in the shallows, but what about wading? Is that even a possibility? Any help/pointers/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

TNBigBore 07-09-2010 11:57 AM

I faced the same dilemma several years ago. To be honest, I would not expect to get much fishing done around moving water if you have a four-year old in tow. You pretty much have to keep your eyes on them at all times if there are slick rocks and any degree of current involved. If you don't mind skipping rocks and turning them over looking for insects/crayfish/salamanders with them, then you will fare better. You might be able to make a cast here and there and catch a few fish. If you have another adult along, you might get to do a little more fishing. My nine-year old son is just now getting to the point that he can wade a trout stream with me and cast to the easier spots. He can even catch a few fish. My five and three-year old daughters are still very much in the splashing and rock throwing stages. They have no respect for or fear of moving water at this age, which can be a real problem.

Oh, welcome to the board by the way.

Jim Casada 07-09-2010 12:12 PM

MC1--First of all, welcome and thanks for the kind comments about my book. Kudos for wanting to take a youngster fishing. It's a vital matter we all need to keep in mind (and do). With a four-year-old you won't get much fishing done, but do it anyway. There will be fun splashing around, throwing rocks (be sure to turn some over to look for insect life), and if you should by chance get to cast enough to hook a trout, let your understudy "help" net it. Anything which can convey excitement, fun, and action at this age is a real plus, and you can give a youngster no greater gift than an early and abiding love for fishing, hunting, and the good earth.
I'm enternally grateful to my father, who started taking me trout fishing when I was six, and goodness know how much he sacrificed. That's what you'll be doing, but in time it will all be worth it. ONe of the high points of my life was my daughter "lording" it over her husband when she out-fished him, big-time, on the Nantahala river a few years back.
Your post was a heartening one and I would love to see more of us giving thought (and time) to passing on a wonderful legacy.
Jim Casada

Crockett 07-09-2010 12:31 PM

I have found with my son Jack who will be 5 in August that he isn't ready for a fly rod but what I do is I took his little short kids zebco (spider man) rod and removed the spinning reel and line from it. Then I tied on about 4 feet of heavier tippet to the rod tip end like 6x and a very small nymph with the barb mashed down real good. I let him get behind a rock and fling it over into the pool. He hasn't caught any yet trying this but only did it once for a couple of minutes. I think it will work good though and I did catch a fish with it using that technique while he was looking for salamanders and then I let him hold and release the fish which he got a huge kick out of. Like these other guys have said if he and I fish for an hour it really is about 5 mins of fishing and 55 minutes of playing, looking for salamanders or crawdads, and or throwing rocks. Another tip is don't bring your rod just his. It is really too hard to try and fish when watching after a kid of that age. I find that I have to hold his rod most of the time anyway so I just fish together with him using it if I fish at all. Its all fun though! We will be staying at Smokemont tomorrow night and maybe will fish a few minutes on bradley fork. He likes to hike and explore more right now.

BlueRaiderFan 07-09-2010 12:34 PM

You could try putting just enough float line on the reel that it comes out of the end of the rod and then attach the leader so he could roll cast it.

jeffnles1 07-09-2010 12:35 PM

as with the others, good for you taking your 4 year old fishing.

My son, Daniel, is now 15 and is still my fishing buddy (and has developed into quite the fine fisherman I must add as he regularly outfishes me).

With a child that young, I think I'd focus on turning over rocks, playing in the stream and enjoying a nice day out in the woods. If there is any kind of moving water at all, things can happen so quick that even a momentary lapse in focus could result in tragedy. If you're landing a fish, looking up the stream to the next run or fiddling with your fly line as you're trying to dislodge a fly from a tree, you could look up and see something you really don't want to see.

Take your son or daughter fishing, yes, absolutely it will be time you will remember for the rest of your life, and when he or she is older, it will be times you can share and both of you will remember the rest of your life. 40+ years later, I still have very fond memories of fishing with my grandfather.

I just think most of the streams in the Smokys wouldn't be my first choice.

Metcalf Bottoms may be a possibility if the water is still low (nice picnic area, plenty of area to splash around, plenty of other people) and it will have some fish to cast to. fishing would be great, catching may be a bit slim.

Hope you all have a great time.

By the way, what part of Kentucky are you originally from?


MC1 07-09-2010 12:43 PM


I truly appreciate the comments and advice. I can assure you I'll be using the information quite a bit in the next couple years. Along with my 4-year-old, I have another son who just turned 1 not too long ago. With that in mind, any advice I can gather from here will definitely be used!

ahighlan 07-09-2010 12:44 PM

One of the first few quiet walkways on the WPLP has good access. You can walk out onto the riverbed under normal water levels without getting in the water. It is pretty open as far as trees go. It is pretty low in elevation, so it may be a bit too warm right now.

A cane pole might be good for him. Attach a leader and he can still get some reach without the tangles and hassles of casting a fly rod.

MC1 07-09-2010 12:47 PM


I grew up about 30 minutes outside Louisville and my folks now live near Paducah. My grandparents and some other family still reside in Mt. Vernon. How about yourself? Where do you call home?

Vern 07-09-2010 01:20 PM

I started my son spin fishing when he was around 6-7. Started fishing Caney Fork with red-worms. Then he graduated to fishing rooster tails and trout grubs. When we would go to the smokies I would spend one afternoon with him on the children streams in Gatlinburg. When he was 10 I started him on fly-rods, he would still revert back to the spin tackle. Then when we was 14-15 he noticed that I was catching more fish, and couldn't understand why. Son! for the past 8-9 years I spent most of my time taking care of you and not really fishing myself, now that you are older I can spend most of my time fishing. He also noticed that with the fly-rod I could out fish him in most cases. From that point on he has been purely a fly fisherman.
I would never trade those early years, yeah I didn't get much fishing done, But you know 8-10yrs is a short time compared to a life time of fishing I have left. I just take longer to recover from a rough trip now. At some point I am sure he will have to take care of me on the river and not get much fishing done his self.

Don't be afraid to use spin tackle, it is easier for them and a red-worm, where bait fishing is allow is a sure way to keep them reeling in fish. the fly rod will eventually come.

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