For those of us who love to fish, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that there are people who don’t. But it’s true — there are people who not only don’t like to fish but have no desire to even give it a shot and see if they like it.
Now, you may have some of these people in your life. Some of them might be very close — siblings, children, even spouses. And you may have a strong desire to share your fishing fanaticism with them. Here are some ways you can make it happen:
Reason with them
Surely if they just understood the advantages of fishing, they’d realize that they’re missing out. Try waxing poetic about the feeling of setting the hook on a 10-pound bass, or the thrill you get when a six-foot silver streak launches out of the water with your line attached. Explain the mental health benefits of spending hours outdoors in nature. If you can get the words just right, they’ll have to agree — right?
Compromise with them
OK, reasoning didn’t work. What if you agree to accompany them on one of their outings? Now, keep an open mind here. You might end up trying to smack a marble-sized ball with a stick on a golf course, or waving a big flyswatter around on a pickleball court. Could be you’ll have to take an art class or attend a pottery show. You might even have to go shopping. But it will be worth it when you’re both out there with rods in your hands.
If you’re not much on compromise, this one may do the job. Some suggestions: “I saw a whole pod of dolphins jumping over on the east wall. It was like SeaWorld out there! You really ought to see it for yourself.” Or, “Let’s walk out on the pier and watch the sunset. Nah, you don’t need your keys; I’ve got mine.” Or, “Look, a party boat! That sounds like a whole bunch of fun!” You may want to try relieving them of any potential weapons before they realize what you’ve done.
If all else fails, a simple abduction might be in order. Be careful with this one — you need to be relatively sure that they won’t end up pressing charges. The goal here is to gain a fishing partner, not lose your freedom for 15 years (8 with good behavior). Try to make it seem like an accident if at all possible, and whatever you do, don’t leave any bruises.
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No matter how you get your mark to go fishing with you, there is one absolutely ironclad rule: You have to make the experience enjoyable. If you don’t, then they’re not going to want to go again, and you might have to take more drastic measures. The good news is that it’s not too hard to make fishing fun. My suggestions are as follows:
Keep it short
Most newbie fishermen are dreading the idea of spending hours and hours and hours doing nothing but waiting for a fish to bite. So cut that off right at the outset: We’re going fishing for two hours, and then we’re done. Now, at the end of the two hours, you might find you can’t pull them away. That would be an excellent outcome. But if they’re done by then, stick to your word. And get ice cream afterward. Everybody loves ice cream.
Keep it active
Nobody likes a slow day of fishing, so pick something that is likely to ensure plenty of tugging on the other end of your lines. Fishing for bluegill is great. Trolling for marlin? Probably not. What you want here is a low-risk strategy. You might not get the fish of a lifetime, but the point is that they’ll catch something. After all, we all know that despite the other great things about fishing, if you’re not catching, you’re missing out on a lot of the fun.
Keep it realistic
Who wouldn’t want their first fishing memory to be a perfectly cast fly landing in front of a tailing 18-pound redfish, only to watch him slurp it and speed off toward the horizon? Here’s the thing: No one has that as their first fishing memory, because beginners just can’t do that. Start them with something they can do. I’ll bet you a sawbuck your first fish was some sort of panfish. That will do fine for any first-timer — regardless of age.
Keep it positive
“That was a really good cast. Look at how far you got it out there!” “You did a great job reacting to that fish — your float was only under for a few seconds before you realized it.” “Wow, that was a fantastic job of fighting that catfish. Let’s take a picture for WaterLine!” Don’t praise them so much that you’re patronizing them, but offer considerable encouragement.
This is your one shot. Make it a positive experience, not a negative one. Get it right, and you may have a new fishing buddy. Or maybe it will turn out that fishing truly is not for them — but at least you will have put forth your best effort. In all seriousness, take the time to introduce someone to the sport we all love. I’ll keep my fingers crossed it works out for you.
As the Fish Coach, Capt. Josh Olive offers personalized instruction on how and where to fish in Southwest Florida. Whether you’re a complete beginner or just looking to refine your techniques, he can help you get past the frustration and start catching more fish. Lessons can be held on your boat, on local piers or even in your backyard. To book your session or for more information, go to FishCoach.net, email Josh@FishCoach.net or call 941-276-9657.