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3 Tips for Getting Folks Hooked on Fishing

I began to reel in my bobber. Spice, my springer spaniel, cavorted on shore: my only witness. I thought I would cast again since nothing was biting.

My bobber started going down—it seemed I had snagged a log. The line wasn’t moving, my rod was bent over, and I was a little frustrated. Then the rod tip moved, the “snag” made the water boil, and I had the fight of my life before I landed the largest bass I have ever caught.

For me and many others, we started fishing in childhood and have great memories from our early years. Our passion is anchored in amazing experiences that are forever etched in our memories as we came in close contact with the natural world.

For years now, however, the DNR has reported falling sales of both hunting and fishing licenses, meaning that many in the up-and-coming generations are missing out on these wonderful outdoor experiences. 

Fishing is one of the time-honored traditions held dear by many Minnesotans. We participate in this tradition when we head to the lake for a weekend vacation or move to the lake when we retire so we can devote ourselves to pursing walleyes full-time. For those of us with memories like my big bass story we long to have our children, grandchildren, friends, or spouse experience the thrill that comes from such an experience.

Here are three simple tips for getting others hooked on fishing:

  1. Focus on their experience, not yours. Sure, you can outfish them—that’s not the point. If you are looking to create fishing partners and share your joy, the people you take fishing have to catch fish. Many people have lost their interest due to lack of action.
  2. Enjoy good conversation. Unlike deer hunting, you don’t need to be quiet while fishing. Often the conversation is better than the fishing itself. If you take your kids when they are young and talk about the important things in life they will want to go again even if few fish are caught. Children spell love T-I-M-E (and so do most grown-ups I know).
  3. Although catching a monster is great fun, there are fewer of them, so go after numbers first. Panfish, crappies, or bass are some of the best starter fish because you’ll see more action than walleye fishing (unless you’re on Lake of the Woods). Be sure the newbies you take fishing get plenty of action. Some of the best pictures are with the smallest fish: it creates a good laugh.

Fishing is a great multi-generational activity. As much as I love going for hikes, waiting for a deer, and taking part in group exercise classes, none of those were possibilities when my dad was close to the end of his life and battling cancer. Fishing was possible, and our final trip with three generations fishing from the same boat is one I won’t ever forget.


Neil Johnson