​Baseball. Ice Cream. Apple Pie. Each is part of an all-American summer for many dads and kids, but there’s another activity many dad, granddads and kids enjoy all over the country—fishing. If you talk to Ron Hartman, father of two grown children, you’ll discover it’s an important part of the “retirement research” he’s doing. A retired pharmacist, Ron claims he has worked for 50 years and finally discovered something he is really good at—a retirement that includes fishing and golf.

Over the years, Ron has developed many happy memories with his kids associated with fishing. He says his daughter was only six-months old when she went on her first camping and canoe outing. When his kids were preschoolers, he and his wife got them in a canoe and went down the river.

Not yet a grandfather, these days Ron devotes some of his fishing time to helping other people’s kids and grand-kids learn to love fishing. He has a few pointers for dads who want to encourage this activity in their children.

  1. When you fish with kids, the dad doesn’t fish. You put your attention on the kids, bait the hook, untangle the line, make it easy. Ron suggests using live bait, namely worms.
  2. Don’t overdo it. On a float trip, stop a lot and allow the kids to explore. Ron says that they especially enjoyed catching live bait, like minnows, in the shallows. Crawdads were also a favorite for his family. Lures are more appropriate for older children.
  3. Try to use decent equipment. Ron advised avoiding, “old junky stuff that doesn’t work right” in favor of good, but not expensive equipment.
  4. Rivers, lakes, streams and ponds are all possibilities for fishing with kids. Use the option that works best for you and your child.
  5. Both canoes and kayaks are choices for river fishing. Ron prefers a canoe because, he says, “I take a lot of stuff.” Both water craft may also often be rented at a public river access.

​Although it’s clear Ron loves fishing, if you talk with him much you also see how much he loves nature. He appreciates nature and sharing that love with a child. According to Ron, “They can learn a lot, just by being outside.”

Ron emphasizes the importance of listening to a child, not lecturing, when the two are together. He values the quiet time of just being together noticing the wildlife, enjoying the outdoors without the interruption of electronic stimuli. Ron emphasizes, “Fishing is not a video game. It’s the real thing.”

If you want a real-life experience with your child this summer, consider taking them fishing. It’s likely to be a great memory-making experience for both of you.

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