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Kids aren’t fishing like we did growing up

Five year old Dave Shefland, spent countless hours fishing off the dock during his family’s vacation, a foundation to his love of the sport today. (Submitted photo)

By Gary Korsgaden / Guest Columnist

While on a area lake last summer, fishing partner Dave Shefland and myself took note of the lack of anglers on several community fishing spots, thinking the number of young anglers taking up the sport seems to be dwindling.

”Kids aren’t into fishing quite like we were when growing up,” Shefland proclaimed.

Shefland and I came from somewhat similar angling developmental backgrounds.

Both of us had stay at home moms and fathers who were the main bread winners. Vacations comprised a week of fishing at a selected Minnesota resort. Later time was spent at the family lake cabin.

The family vacation setting was selected for the best fishing opportunities. Meals were scheduled, with optimum fishing times kept in mind. Dinner was always early to ensure we could go fishing long before dark.

Resort owners were always considered to be the expert. We listened, nothing missed, ensuring we didn’t miss a tip or two that could unlock great fishing event during our stay. The first area that always had to be explored, upon arrival to the resort, was the dock.

Knowing that when Mom and Dad didn’t want to be out in the boat, fishing off the dock would be our next best choice.

Armed with cane poles, bobbers and night crawlers we attacked any unsuspecting bluegill, crappie or bass lurking nearby, breaking only for meals or to prepare for an evening fishing in the boat.

Resorts were kid friendly then, always having a boat for each cabin. As long as we wore our life jackets, we could venture out for short trips in the boat to explore areas a short distance from the dock.

“Can’t remember much about those early years of fishing except that any of the fish we caught were large, even though they weren’t,” Shefland remembers.

My father’s goal was always to purchase a family lake cabin.

That day finally arrived. A week at a resort was replaced with a whole summer at the cabin. Dad commuted while my brother and I, with our mother, moved to the lake cabin. Our stay started the first day school was out, returning a day or so before school was to start in late summer.

A cabin simple in stature provided a great environment for two young boys to experiment, explore and learn how to catch fish all summer long.

Today the family element has changed with a number of single parent families. Cabins are no longer simple fishing hangouts, but year around homes. The role of the family cabin has gone away from fishing but instead is a getaway to entertain friends and neighbors.

Maintaining the investment must come first; fishing becomes secondary. 

Summer camps and other summer school obligations arose. Coupled with the dual income family being the new normal, few can enjoy the luxury of spending the whole summer at the lake cabin.

Resorts are disappearing. Cost of taxes on these shoreline retreats has forced many to be broken up and sold consequently going out of business.