The Woodsman Magazine

Getting Started

The author’s grandson kept him busy on his very first fishing trip.   

By Ron Anlauf

It doesn’t take that much to get started.   A big high powered rig loaded with all of the latest gadgets isn’t what it’s all about.  Sure I have one now, but some of the best times of my life were spent in a plywood boat powered by an old SeaHorse and without any kind of electronics.  There wasn’t any available at the time and the fact is we didn’t need them to create memories that would last a lifetime.  What it took was some cane poles rigged with hooks and bobbers and enough line to get to the bottom, a few dozen worms, and Dad and Grandpa.  They took the time and had the patience to take me and my brothers to the lake where we had the times of our lives.   And we weren’t chasing anything fancy like walleyes, pike, or bass, it was just catching, and that meant sunnies (lots of them). 

Grandpa would haul his motor down to the lake and mount it on the boat and I’d grab the gas tank (when I got old enough) and my brothers would grab the rods and life jackets.  We’d load all the gear in the boat and head out with high hopes that we’d do some serious catching and most of the time it worked out.  The goal was to put enough together to have a fish fry (same goal I have today), but there were days when we came up a little short.  Still it was fun, and we’d probably do better the next time out.  When you’re a kid; having fun with someone important to you is what fishing is really all about.  Unfortunately in these modern times filled with too much pressure, too little time, and plenty of uncertainty, the tradition isn’t getting passed down and it’s a shame.  Maybe it’s the cost of getting started (doesn’t have to be a problem), or maybe it’s a lack of opportunity (more there than you might think), or maybe it’s the time.  In that case; you might re-consider as to what’s really important and take a hard look at what you’re doing and understand that you may never again get a better chance to build a bond that will last a lifetime. 

If it’s the cost holding you back don’t fret; you can get by on the cheap.  It could be the cane poles like I used, or maybe a nice little spin cast outfit (mine was a Zebco 202).  Doesn’t have to be new either and you might want to check out garage sales or maybe look at websites like   If you’re setting up a youngster make sure it all works though, to help keep them from becoming frustrated and losing interest.  You don’t get that many chances to get it right before you can lose a potential fishing partner for good.  And there are plenty of great opportunities available to today’s boat impaired anglers including fishing docks and piers.  I spent a lot of quality time fishing from shore in my youth, and still do occasionally.  And there still are resorts that will rent out a boat and motor for the day and that could be a good option.  If a boat purchase is in the picture make sure it’s one you can afford as it doesn’t do much good to have the ultimate rig if you can’t afford to go.  Mine is an 1850 Crestliner Raptor with a 175hp Merc Optimax loaded with MinnKota trolling motors and the latest and greatest from Hummnbird and Cannon.  It’s the perfect size for me and can do everything I need including handling big water while providing a nice smooth ride, and yet is a piece of cake to tow. Does it help me catch more fish? Yeah, probably.  Does it make fishing more fun?  Yes it does.  Is it really necessary to have a great time with someone who matters?  Absolutely not!  So don’t let that idea keep you from getting started.  And it doesn’t have to be dad or grandpa.  In these modern times it could be mom, grandma, an aunt or an uncle, or just a family friend that you can trust and is willing to invest a little of their time. 

Recently I got the chance to fish with my grandson who was about sixteen months old at the time.  He didn’t really fish but had a ball playing with the gills in the live well. I kept him busy while my oldest son and his wife worked some bedded gills. Everybody had a blast, especially yours truly.  See you on the water. 

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