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Do's and don't of fishing with kids

KETCHUM, Okla. - Psst. Mom, Dad. If you're ready to take the little person
in your house on his or her first fishing trip, here are three words of
advice:

Just have fun.

That's the main message in a series of do's and don'ts prepared by Hooked on Fishing International (HOFI). HOFI is the expert on the subject of taking kids fishing. Every year the Ketchum, Okla. organization, host of the Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby, puts on more than 1,800 fishing events for 300,000 kids in all 50 states.

The reward for a successful trip easily outweigh the risk of failure. Seeing
your little angler have a good time, maybe even catch a fish, is a significant reward, to be sure. But, the real reward for parents is knowing that a successful trip could become the spark that fires a lifetime of fishing, the back-to-nature platform that teaches respect for the land, water and everything that lives. It follows, too, that some of those trips will be family fishing trips that build a store of shared experiences and love.

To up the chances for success on your young anglers outing, HOFI
suggests you consider the following guidelines.

§ Do use live bait to increase the chances of catching a fish. While catching a fish does not make the difference between a fun or lousy time, the thrill of feeling a fish on the line will just about guarantee that your little angler will want to come back for more. For safety's sake, the grownups should handle putting the worms and minnows on sharp hooks. Incidentally, HOFI records show that worms and minnows catch 80 percent of the fish at the Wal-Mart Kids All American Fishing Derbies.

§ Don't ever forget to bring lots of delicious snacks. As you probably know, a hungry tummy trumps just about everything. Keep wet wipes on hand for use before and after snacks.

§ Do give the child his own fishing outfit, a gesture that will make this day even more memorable for the adults and child. There is a practical aspect to this, too. For short anglers, short rods are easier to handle.

§ Do bring a camera and shoot lots of pictures. This day will live in the memory for a long time but the details will come flooding back, even a generation later, when you haul out the family photo album.

§ Also, do bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and first aid basics.

§ Don't drive too far. The object is to minimize the times back seat auto passengers ask the front seat, "Are we there yet?"

§ Don't fish too long. Leave a little fishing desire in the bank for the next fishing trip.

One more time, remember, have fun and keep it simple!

These are the same do's and don'ts that HOFI dispenses to the adult volunteers and parents who plan and supervise local events in the Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby program. Parents can go to the official web site - www.kids-fishing.com -- to find the derby closest to them. The Derby Locator section also provides the phone number of the local derby contact to call for additional information

Organizations interested in hosting an event in 2004 can register on the web site. HOFI provides a free kit which contains all of the items necessary to put on a local derby, including, an organizer handbook, prizes and goodies for each derby participant. In addition to Wal-Mart, the events are funded and supported by Bar-S Foods Company; Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum; Eagle Claw; EverStart Batteries; FishingWorld.com; Fujifilm; ConAgra Foods; Johnson & Johnson First Aid Pocket Pals; Kellogg,s; Kraft Foods; Laker Fishing Tackle; Berkley Trilene and Berkley PowerBait; and Zebco.

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