Teaching My Sons to Love Fishing


The more time I spend as a parent the more I realize how much I appreciate my father.  Beyond the values of hard work and caring for others that he instilled in me, what I appreciate most is my love of the outdoors that comes from my time spent in a boat with dad.  Recent articles and other discussions here on IDO have talked about the topic of less youth getting into fishing these days and my biggest hope is that I am able to do as good a job of passing my passion on to my son as my dad did for me.

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Hunter’s First Muskie!

Browsing through the pictures and reports online I quickly find myself becoming much more excited to see the pictures of young anglers smiling with their catches, regardless of size or species, than pictures of even the absolute trophies.  For me success is becoming less measured in inches or pounds but rather in did my son have a good experience with me today and did I help to pass on my love for fishing to him.  At his young age my goal is about making sure our time on the water is always about quality of the experience and that we’re always having fun. Which meant last summer I started leaving my fishing boat in the garage for family weekends and started building new pattern – Pontoon trolling for large pike and muskies.  The pike and muskies are perfect for kids because they look cool and bite well during high sun conditions, but why pontoon trolling you ask?  Because kids love pontoons!

They also love being involved in whatever is going on so make sure to let them help with setting lines, picking lures, always change baits if your son decides a different color/style looks like it would work better, and have them help drive the boat when things are slow.  Even catching cabbage can be a good opportunity to teach them about reeling in a “salad fish.”

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Captain Weston!

In two previous trips last summer poor weather and missed strikes kept us off the board until we finally scored with a 41″ pike (Little Kids, Big Fish), but most important was that everyone had fun and the information that I had learned towards building a successful pattern.  I learned where to find the best weedlines, developed a trolling run that allowed me to get back to the dock before my son’s patience ran out, and gained invaluable knowledge that in a lake full of every type of panfish, perch patterned baits were far and away drawing the most interest.  I also realized that some of what of what I was doing didn’t exactly translate for targeting a new to me species… I was trolling too slow and spending too much time glued to the weedlines.  After more research this year bumped my trolling speed up to 3-4 mph and started making more trolling passes out over the main lake basin looking for midday roaming fish.  Not only that but  I was also armed with the same secret weapon I employ for shallow water walleye trolling… The bent-lip Rapala Shad Rap.  Not being a muskie guy I never hear anyone talking about fishing the Super Shad Raps but every hit I had came on my single hot perch colored Super SSR last summer so this year I came back with more of the same but with more colors.

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Not only my confidence bait for walleyes but now also my secret weapon for Muskies.

Joined by my nephew, niece, and almost 3 year old son, Hunter, we headed out for our first troll of the season on Friday afternoon of the 4th of July weekend.  It didn’t take long and we connected with my first muskie of the season and the first muskie that any of the kids had ever experienced, a healthy 45″ fish that will be remembered in our household for a long time.

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48″ Fattie and new PB


Later that weekend on a solo trip I was also able to connect on a much heavier 48″ piggy but the real successes were the kid’s smiles and a few quick pics I got with my son and “the biggest fish I’ve ever seen daddy!!!”

Thanks for reading and remember with kids it’s all about the fun!


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Will Roseberg

Having grown up in the small town of Malmo, Minn, fishing Minnesota’s famed Lake Mille Lacs, Will comes from a small group of anglers in-the-know on north-central Minnesota lakes. He developed his skills fishing the big lake and its surrounding Full Bio ›


  1. I’m in the same boat as you. The older my son gets (he’s turning 5 on the 27th) the more I’m realizing my time on the water is about him enjoying himself. I want him to have the passion the way I do, and the only way to do that is to make everything fun.

  2. Amen brotha!! Very, very cool to hear these kinda things. Its all about them kids brother!! My kid asks me to go fishing almost everyday and hes 3. Teaching him the fishing life and showing him how nature works is priceless and way more fulfilling than having him experience it from a TV screen!! Tight lines and happy fishing!!

  3. Great story, Will! I enjoyed reading this – my son will be 3 this summer and we’ve enjoyed some fun afternoons “fishing” … driving the boat, playing with minnows/worms and catching sunnies. I also love to muskie fish so appreciate the tips and photos!

  4. 8/2/2017
    Will. First thank you for your time. I live close to surf city NC. I need someone that knows boats. My father passed away in May he loved to fish and run nets and crab. He left me four boat docks on New River inlet NC. I grew with him fishing. But I am 60 now soon to 61 the 17th. He was in the Marines for 30 years. My wife and I want to get into fishing. I am 6’6 she is 5’11 together we weigh 500 pounds. She has a bad back. But she was a probation officer for 14 years. I sold harleys in Jacksonville nc for 15 years. We have looked at 100’s of boats. Do you like the tracker boats they seem like a lot of bang for the bucks? My wife think we shouldn’t go hog wild and buy a 30,000 dollar boat. She thinks we buy a 15,000 boat and see if we like it. Will, agian thank you for you time. Tracker or Carolina Skiff.
    Bulls bays 2000 it’s 29,995 with trolling motor and fish finder and depth. Will the water would make me feel close to my daddy. We took care of him for five years and the last year he had cancer. He out of the USMC in 75 he was 45 and fished and run nets and fixed net till he was 70. He passed may 3 rd he was 88 July 25 was his birthday. He was my hero. I am only child.
    Will, I hope you can take the time to answer me back. I hope I will be glad I found this forum tonite.
    Best Regards
    Don Thomas
    PS Thank again for your time.

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