Family fishing: the joys of catching tiddlers with the small fry

2012-12-22 00:00

MY great-grandfather always used to say that if you go fishing with kids, you’ll only come back with kids.

The festive season is finally here and that means that most of us have a lot of free time on our hands. Even though I’m not one, parents are sure to be pulling out their hair trying to entertain bored and unruly kids.

For those unwilling to brave the crowded malls, there is a wondrous world of opportunity at the local fishing store that is sure to give children and their parents many afternoons filled with easy entertainment.

Although most seasoned anglers are unlikely to admit the fun that can be had fishing for small species, we have all been known to indulge in an afternoon or two fishing for tiddlers at our local dams when the fishing slows down.

It’s not quite as thrilling as hooking into a lanker, but catching an array of different species is nothing to turn your nose up at and they are easily sighted along the shoreline, provided that you have your trusty polarised sunglasses handy.

Blue tilapia, red tilapia and the beautiful blue gill can all be targeted using light tackle.

When fishing for these species, it is recommended that you use size 16 to size 24 hooks rigged on to any light or medium spinning rod that you may have lying around at home. I find an ultralite is a more manageable rod when targeting smaller fish.

Tie your hook onto the end of some six-pound line and bait it with a grub, or a piece of one of your old worms should work just as well. Place a split shot 10 centimetres above the hook and you’ll be ready to go. To target the little guns, just look for the fish in the shallows and tease them with your grub by dipping it in their line of sight and moving it slowly through the water. Those wanting to catch a pan-sized red or blue tilapia can cast their grub out into deeper water and try blind grubbing.

Reeling in one tilapia, two tilapia, red tilapia, blue tilapia is sure to take you back to your own childhood as Dr Seuss’s tongue-twisters run through your mind. If you want to try your line at a more challenging mark, then the mosquito fish is certain to frustrate even the most seasoned among us. These fish generally require that you use your smallest hooks, though I wouldn’t recommend trying for them with anything bigger than a size 30. Mosquito fish feed differently to the tilapia and blue gills and a steady hand is essential. If you feel like giving them a go, then start by taking off your sinker and placing the smallest piece of grub that you can manage to break off on the end of the hook.

If you’re reaching for your glasses while simultaneously pulling out your hair then it’s probably the right size and, if all else fails, you can reach for a lighter and burn the grub on to the hook.

These fish are only worth targeting if you can see them, so train your eyes on the guppy of your choice and lower the grub so that it rests on the surface of the water close to the fish. Swirl the bait on the surface of the water and tense your muscles in anticipation for the bite. You’ll have to watch for it because there is no chance that you’ll feel it. There is little more rewarding than hooking one of these tiny backbreakers.

Small species angling is a fantastic way to get the whole family involved in a day on the lake. And while you may not be hooking into tonight’s dinner, you’re sure to get your children out of your hair for an hour or two.

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