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The Father Factor:
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Feeding Fish? Take the Nightcrawlers. Leave the Fake Bait.

I cheapened fishing for my daughters. New Dads, learn from my mistake. Don't use artificial bait on your first fishing trip with your kids. I don't know what I was thinking. In my attempt to curb drama and avoid the Sanders Beauties seeing a nightcrawler and jumping headfirst into the lake, my girls’ interest in fishing may be forever scarred.

This ain't about fishing

If you listen to your local country music radio station, you may have heard Trace Adkin’s new song “Just Fishin’.” If you haven’t heard it, you should… it’ll pull at your heart strings, even if you’re not a fan of country music.



This song resonates in a personal way with NFI’s Senior Director of Events and Logistics, Elaine Barber, because fishing with her dad is one of her favorite memories of childhood. Looking back now as an adult, she appreciates the significance of those moments together – as Trace Adkins says, it’s not just about fishing.

When I was 5 or 6, my Nana and Poppi had a motor home and we always used to go camping with them. I had a Snoopy fishing pole that my Poppi had gotten me and I always loved to fish with my dad when we were camping (which is funny because I don't even eat fish!) One time when we were camping, we forgot my Snoopy pole. I was so disappointed, but my dad made me a homemade fishing pole out of a stick, fishing wire, and hook -- with no reel! We used dough balls for bait and I caught more fish with that pole than ever before. We called it my Robinson-Crusoe fishing pole and my mom has it in her basement still 30 years later!

Flash forward 20+ years and in 2002, NFI awarded The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) a Fatherhood Award for a public awareness campaign they did titled "Take Me Fishing." One poster showed a picture of a little girl and her dad in a red fishing boat with the line, "Take me fishing because my wedding will be sooner than you think." I asked RBFF to provide me a copy of the poster which proudly hangs in my parent's house -- a reminder of all those wonderful times spent fishing -- just me and my dad.

Catch and Release: Like fishing, we have to let the kids go

This is a post by Evelyn Hines, NFI's Executive Assistant for Training and Technical Support. She and her husband have been married for 26 years and have three kids. She shares her memories of fishing with her daughter as part of NFI's campaign to "Get Out: Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids This Summer."

Before I came on board with NFI in 2001, my husband and I had taught our three kids to be expert fishermen and a fisherwoman. As our kids grow older, we know that one day we will have to let them go, like "catch and release" fishing, and let them explore other waters.

My oldest son caught a wonderful wife and got married last year. My 15-year-old son, Jacob, is obsessed with the Marines so we expect him to cast his net into the military in a couple of years. My daughter, Jesse (Jacob’s twin), proudly exclaims “spell my name like Jesse James – no ‘ie’ at the end.” Such a tough teen! She does not wear jewelry or makeup, and her favorite shoes are a pair of grey Converse high tops with blue laces. She still loves to fish with maggots, tie on weights, and can cast with a 20lb test monofilament line as good as the old timers. While she is concerned about reeling in a walleye, dad’s eyes are downcast because a young man may soon catch her heart.

We looked at her intently this Memorial Day on our annual fishing trip. She is such a free spirit. While the noon-day sun burnt us like a toaster gone awry, we noticed the tinge of glow to her skin and highlights that the sun added to her hair that comes to the middle of her back. She is blossoming into a level-headed, beautiful young woman. No one caught a fish on our trip this year. As her mom, I know it was an omen and not just a bad day without a good fish story.

Inevitably, a handsome man will catch her heart and take her away from her first love – her daddy. As her father, he may ask for fishing trips together with her and her family, but he will always be "second string."

She may one day catch a husband, but the hobby of fishing is something she can pass on from her dad as a legacy to her own children. I hope we catch fish with her on every occasion, especially when her daughter one day turns 15.

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