My grandpa Helman taught me to fish when I was just a little girl while visiting his cottage on St.Mary’s Lake in Ohio. For him, enjoying the outdoors was more of a lifestyle choice than a hobby, so teaching me how to enjoy it too was our special way of bonding.
There’s no doubt that I loved my dresses and bows in my hair. But, grandpa’s lessons about digging for worms in the dirt to use for bait and carefully handling the fish to remove the hook were the reasons that words like “icky” and “slimy” never became a part of my vocabulary.
These days, I fish around the world because I have an insatiable curiosity about what lives in the waters wherever I am traveling. I have come to realize the true lessons that happen while teaching girls to fish at a young age.
Here are three things to know about teaching girls to fish:
1. Lessons for a lifetime
How I wish my grandpa could’ve known all those years ago when we were fishing together that the passion he instilled in me would last my entire life.
Fishing was just something to do when I visited his cottage, but the memories that got attached to those experiences nurtured a nostalgia throughout my life. I fish on weekends and my cousins (all touched by grandpa’s lessons) fish during family get-togethers. The gravitational pull has launched me into an adulthood of now fishing around the world and writing about those adventures for fishing and outdoor publications.
To think such an important element in my life all started with a cane pole, a bucket of worms and grandpa’s outings.
2. Building confidence
Little girls need all the confidence they can get. Oftentimes, it is not found at home. But, if you teach a girl to fish, she can find success and confidence that is not dependent on someone handing it to her – or taking it away for that matter.
Giving her the tools and skills to know how to fish, where to fish and allowing her to do it independently plants a seed to a victory that is all her own.
3. Appreciation for nature
A love and appreciation for nature is the one constant in my life. Little did I know that the hours I spent helping grandpa set trotlines, watching him fix poles and enjoying his company while we watched the bobber sink during crappie season would mean a lifelong appreciation of the outdoors.
Getting up early for morning fishing meant experiencing the magic of a sunrise. Staying up late to catch nocturnally active catfish exposed me to the mesmerizing artwork of bright stars on a dark night. During the time between bites on my line, I learned how quiet moments accented by the wind could soothe my soul.
The deep appreciation for how nature works in harmony – the sky, water, land, and wildlife – all started because grandpa took the time to teach me to fish as a little girl. Catching fish was just the bonus.