Teaching, learning and the art of bribery. 

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Photo By Charlie Warfield

Photo By Charlie Warfield

By Charlie Warfield

There are many advantages to having kids while you are young.

And for every positive I’m sure I could think of at least one negative, but I fancy myself as more of a cup half full kind of person. So I prefer to not dwell on the negative. Despite this, I have to say that taking three boys under 10 years old fishing at the same time is not just hard, it is nearly impossible. I can get all three of my boys excited about fishing — that’s not the problem. I can get them all fired up about catching fish and they will run around the house grabbing all the life jackets and water bottles, and their fly boxes. But somehow, inevitably, by the time the canoe is in the water, the bickering has begun. Now don’t get me wrong, I am blessed with three beautiful healthy boys, they are beautiful despite the bruises and scars that they have given each other, and I know they are healthy because you have to be heathy to fight the way they do. Normally I can get them to calm down a bit once we are all in the boat. The excitement of holding the fishing pole or taking their turn paddling is a good distraction from the normal sibling disputes, and I can generally get a whole 20 minutes of relative peace and harmony. Then it falls apart pretty quickly after an hour and it doesn’t matter if we are catching fish or not. I am in full bribery mode, starting with candy and soon promising ice cream. Of course all of this points more to my poor parenting then it does to my children. After all they are kids and I am the guy in his early 30s that is losing his mind, probably (definitely) yelling at some point — which never helps, by the way.

Spending time with my boys fishing is something that I have looked forward to for years. But it never plays out the way I see it in my mind. I have yet to see any of my boys catch the fly fishing bug the way I would like them to. My father passed fly fishing down to me so I have grand visions of what could be. I look forward to a day when I can go fish big water with my boys. Maybe we spread out over a quarter mile of steam or more, maybe we help each other net big fish. Or maybe we just fish all day in the back country and meet up for lunch, and then share stories of the day’s catch around the fire that night. I hope to have many, many more years of fishing with my kids and to pass this passion on to them. But I guess we can only hope for the future, we don’t really know what tomorrow holds. So maybe that’s the point. Make the most of each day on the water. Really, make the most of each day, spend it with somebody you love and do something you love. As a parent I know I will only have so much time and so much impact on my kids’ lives. So what the heck, fish, fight, ice cream. That sounds pretty good to me.

Charlie Warfield
Gink & Gasoline
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18 thoughts on “Teaching, learning and the art of bribery. 

  1. Having been a young parent and taken my two boys through fishing from age 5 to adulthood, I can sure relate. As they get older you go from chaos through the competitive stage of one sulker who caught less than the other and one very happy and then to the stage of full appreciation by both/all. But I say you savor all of it, imperfect through sublime. My boys only took to fly fishing as teens, so no need to rush it. But both became terrific travel companions with me to AK and Montana and Bahamas and the Keys. Both fondly look back on their childhood trips with me as imperfect and chaotic as I thought they were. Bottom line: investing face to face time on your kids is the greatest responsibility and joy of fatherhood. And fishing and other outdoor activities is the best way to do that. You are being a great role model for the next generation.

  2. I have to agree with Ralph A. My boys didn’t really come to appreciate all the time :I made them” be on the water until they became young adults, Now they so love those childhood memories of the Bahamas trips, that they tattooed them on their bodies.

  3. great article. love it. here’s to you, my new friend. may you and your family’s days ahead be great ones.
    my wishes also apply to all parents who face such great days ahead.
    oh yeah, my wishes extend to the children too.
    god bless you all.

  4. Right on point, I’d say. Enjoy it while you can because time will go by so fast you’ll wonder if you really raised a family or was it a dream.

  5. I connect very much with what you’re saying. I too am blessed with 3 healthy boys under 10 (except I’m nearing my LATE thirties) and also find myself cringing at myself when I come unglued over something trife while fishing with my boys. There must be something to being stuck in a boat with whining kids that adds an extra thorn to one’s side. I’ve learned the hard way that taking kids fishing as a cover for a hall pass to go fishing leads to a poor outcome; in the end it’s about the kids (not their dad trying to get in a few cast/fish) because if you don’t make it about them they will.
    But at the end of the day I still get gratitude and love from my boys and the undeserving title of “best dad ever”. I think fishing with kids is only an extension of the main theme in parenting “moments of bliss with periods of hell”.
    Thanks for your words, hang in there, and I wish upon you Zen-like patience.

  6. Great post Charlie. I’ve got a 2.5 year old and another one on the way. At this point I can just dream of the trips and make sure I have some great ones planned when it’s “game time”.

    Some of my great childhood memories with my dad are all about the journey as well rather than the specific time fishing/catching. The songs we’d sing along to, old gas stations and greasy spoons that helped satiate an appetite created by sunshine an fresh air, and like you by the sounds of it, the “don’t tell your mother” treats of junk food at the end of the day.

    Putting on my “parent cap” you’ve also (sometimes) got a captive audience while they’re in the car to check-in and see where they’re at with all life’s trials and tribulations. This is the good stuff.

    • 2.5 is the perfect age to put them in a backpack kid carrier and go fishing. I look back to those days with great fondness. It get harder, but yet more rewarding as they grow. You have lots of great bonding and teaching to come!

      • Good call Charlie. I’ll run some “interference” for mom with the older one taking him on fishing excursions when the baby is here next spring. Nothing makes me work harder for fish than having an expectant toddler wanting to see some fishieeees!

  7. Charlie, great post brother! I feel your pain. I’m in my mid-30’s and have three GIRLS… You can only imagine the chaos of my trips ha ha! Imagine the bathroom break issue or the “ewww bugs are icky!” or “I’m cold!” The only thing I can do really is to be patient and put them first. It’s all about the memories and connecting my your girls. It also keeps their faces out of the mind numbing Ipads/phones and connecting them to the great outdoors, something that many kids nowadays could care less about. Thanks for the post and stay strong!

    • Trevor, I think you have it much harder then me, in every way, and it will stay that way for awhile both in the boat and out. I can only imagine. I completely agree about the role of tech in kids lives these days… out of control.

      • Charlie, you have it pretty tough as well brother! HaHa! If you like to read you should check out, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder” by Richard Louv. It was a required reading for one of my forestry management classes. As a parent of three little ones growing up in a techy world, this book was an eye opener!

  8. You are a blessed man and have a great attitude. I bribe my kids, only now that they are older it involves cheeseburgers, letting them use my underwater camera and, yes, I often resort to nightcrawlers and bass plugs, and hardware to save the day and prevent “getting skunked.” But, 2 out of 3 of my offspring are decent spey casters and the third loves to catch fish and at least has learned some basics with the two hander. It has to be fun! By their definition. Kudos for writing this article!

  9. Great article and great attitude! Nothing wrong with a bribe – it is about exposure. Even if your boys never take to fishing, you are still exposing them to something you are passionate about and they are spending time in the great outdoors. This is clearly a better alternative (bribery or not) than allowing them to sit in the house and play Xbox or watch mindless television while you go without them. You are a good parent, doing the best you can with the gifts and talents God provided you. Bravo.

    My son is now 16 and I would fret constantly that he simply never “got” fishing. Yes, he would go. However, he fought boredom and always seemed to be somewhere else. His true love was always hunting and I pretty much assumed fishing would remain an afterthought. Then, maybe three years ago, I bought him a fly rod and took him to chase redfish from the front of a poled skiff. Something visibly “clicked” in his brain and he never looked back. I believe that he realized for the first time that sight fishing is nothing more than hunting with a fishing rod in hand. I am proud to say that he is now one of my favorite fishing partners and will obvious be a life-long fisherman. Does that mean he likes all fishing? Nope. He would rather gouge out his own eyes with a butter knife than fish with bait or even cast with conventional tackle under most instances. Not all fishing is the same.

    Great luck and keep making those memories. Best gift you could ever give those boys! (take it from me; my father died when I was nine and fishing memories are all I have left)

    • “He would rather gouge out his own eyes with a butter knife than fish with bait or even cast with conventional tackle under most instances. Not all fishing is the same.”

      That’s funny the same is true for me.

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