For kids who are lucky enough to have two loving parents in their lives, Father’s Day — coming up June 16 — is a great time for them to spend a day with their Dads on the water, making some memories. But what about children who no longer have their fathers? For them, Mom has to fill both parental roles.
I know how hard that can be on both the mother and her children — my father died when I was 12 years old, and from then on my mother had to be both Mom and Dad for me. Of course, I had other male family members to look up to, but most of the time she had to play both parts. It can’t have been easy for her, yet she did it all the same — and did a fantastic job of it. I call her every Father’s Day and thank her.
Fishing is often thought of as a “guy thing.” That’s hooey, and there are thousands of female anglers out there who will be happy to tell you just that. Many women are a bit hesitant to handle bait or unhook a slimy, squirming fish, but that’s mostly because they haven’t done it before. Once you do those things a few times, you’ll realize that they’re really not a big deal at all – anyone can do them, regardless of gender.
If you’re a single mom trying to raise a kid who’s crazy about fishing, it can be a real challenge, particularly if you don’t know much about fishing. There are resources that are available to you, though. One of them is our tackle shop. I’m not one for shameless self-promotion, but it’s a plain fact that the staff at Fishin’ Frank’s is always willing to take the time to teach someone about fishing — especially a child.
You can also enlist some help with getting started. In addition to the shop staff, there are several organizations that you can contact. The Charlotte County chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, for example, has a lot of good-hearted people who might be willing to help out or at least get you pointed in the right direction, and they also have monthly meetings which include seminars and are open to the public. A number of other fishing clubs, including the Fishin’ Frank’s club and the Englewood Fishing Club, also offer no-cost seminars of this type, usually conducted by very knowledgeable local charter guides.
For a top-notch fishing experience, it’s hard to beat a day with one of these guides. Cost can be limiting factor, but if you discuss your situation with some of these captains you might be surprised by how willing they are to work with you on price. Of course, these guys didn’t just fall off the turnip truck — they can tell when someone is just angling for a discount. But if you’re genuine and honest, it wouldn’t be a shock to me if you found one who would cut his fee.
For a lot of single mothers, money is an issue. Kids are expensive, and with just one income it can be tough to afford even the basics, let alone fishing tackle. Buying the least expensive gear you can find is certainly an acceptable way to go. You can often find bargains on used gear on Craigslist or at a garage sale, although it’s not really a bargain if it doesn’t work or if it breaks on the first fish.
It’s a good idea to take someone who knows something about fishing along with you so you don’t waste hard-earned dollars on junk, or stop by the shop and we can tell you what to look for when you’re checking out used gear. We also offer new equipment that doesn’t cost an arm an a leg — 30 bucks is enough to get you out the door with a brand-new rod and reel.
In today’s scary world, many parents are fearful to let their children even talk to people. Although a bit of sensible caution is a good idea, there are a lot more good apples out there than bad ones. If your kid wants to fish, it can be as simple as walking out onto one of the popular local fishing piers with him and finding someone who seems to know what they’re doing. Most of the time you can find someone fishing with their own children or grandchildren, and it’s a pretty safe bet that your child will be OK with them, especially if you keep one eye on the situation.
Being a single mom has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. I have the utmost respect for the women who have to take on the role of both parents. For those of you who do it every day, you’ve earned some respect this Father’s Day. It’s far from easy, but it’s definitely not a bad thing.
Robert Lugiewicz is the manager of Fishin’ Frank’s Bait & Tackle, located at 4425-D Tamiami Trail in Charlotte Harbor and at 14531 N. Cleveland Ave. in North Fort Myers. Call 941-625-3888 for more information about the shop or for local fishing info, or visit them online at FishinFranks.com.