My Father's Day gift came early. On Memorial Day, I got to help my 3-year-old grandson, Jon Thomas Perry, catch his first fish.
Last Christmas, my sister gave Jon Thomas a small rod and reel, and he insisted on taking it on a Memorial Day trip by boat to the beach, clutching it the entire way. Eventually, we rigged the outfit with a hook and split shot, baited the hook with old shrimp, flipped the bait out and began our wait. It didn't take long, but the memory will last a lifetime.
The rod and reel likely will never catch another fish after being dragged through the sand and doused in saltwater, but it served its purpose.
When we got home, my wife asked: "Jon Thomas, did you catch a fish?"
"Two, Giggy. Whites (whiting)," he proudly responded.
By most standards, the first fish wasn't that impressive, but in our eyes it was truly a trophy.
Teaching a child to fish is one of the most rewarding things you can do. If you don't feel qualified, there is a ton of information available on the Internet.
Start by getting them their own rod and reel. I can't tell you how many Trophy Case catches we have published over the years with fish caught using Barbie rod and reels.
The next thing often is the most difficult - finding a place to fish. If you don't feel comfortable with your fishing knowledge, keep an eye out for kids fishing events where assistance is generally available. Saturday's free Folly Beach Anglers' Take a Kid Fishing Day Tournament at the Folly Beach Pier is a good place to start. It begins at 8 a.m.; rods, reels, bait and help are provided. If you can't make that event, try the Mount Pleasant Pier.
Ask about kid-friendly fishing spots at the local tackle shops. Talk with friends. There are a lot of neighborhood ponds brimming with bream. Try to find a fishing hole where they are guaranteed to catch something. It doesn't have to be large.
Make the experience fun. Plan other activities to fill the time between bites and don't let things drag out. When the child shows signs he or she is tired of fishing, move on to another activity. They can learn fishing patience later.
If you haven't already introduced a youngster to fishing, get off the couch and do so. It's the best Father's Day gift you will ever receive.
Contact Tommy Braswell at (843) 937-5591.