By NM Game and Fish
Fish use their well-developed senses to help them perceive their environment and survive in their aquatic habitat. Fish use the same five senses humans do but have one additional sense. Human senses share some similarities with fish senses, but because people and fish live in different environments, land versus aquatic, there are obvious differences.
In addition to the senses of taste, smell, sight, hearing and feeling, fish have a unique sixth sensory organ, called the lateral line, which enables them to sense vibrations in the water. The lateral line is referred to as the sixth sense of fish and is an extension of their sense of hearing.
Having knowledge of how well-developed fish senses are can help you sharpen your fishing skills and improve your ability to find and catch fish. Continue reading about fish senses here.
TEACH YOUR KIDS HOW TO READ THE WATER IN A RIVER
Fishing a river does not require much gear and can easily be done from the bank or while wading. Children should use shorter rods and smaller, lighter reels. Five-and-a-half-foot rod and reel combos are not expensive and are great for kids ages 7 – 12.
Teaching kids how to fish takes time; I recommend fishing for short periods of time, 30 minutes or so with short breaks. And don’t forget to bring snacks. Stay close to your kids as things will go wrong. Snags, tangles and losing tackle and bait are part of the process. Do not show frustration as mistakes are to be expected and are a major part of learning.
As the adult you will not be doing much fishing. You will be baiting hooks, tending to tackle issues and hopefully unhooking fish. If you do hook a fish, let your child reel it in and experience catching a fish.
Remember, fish are predatory and are constantly in search of food. Fish themselves can be eaten by other wildlife so staying safe, preserving energy and hiding is a major priority for them. Teaching your kids how to study a river or stream to locate possible hiding spots for fish will sharpen their fishing skills and lead to a lifetime of angling success.
Use this downloadable lesson plan to:
• Learn how to approach a river carefully.
• Learn how to divide a river into small sections.
• Learn how to take the time to study the water.
• Learn how to identify spots in a river that potentially hold fish.
• Learn how to fish certain features in a river.
IDENTIFY AQUATIC MACROINVERTEBRATE INSECTS
Because of their small size, we usually forget that insects are part of the animal kingdom. In fact, insects are the largest and one of the most successful and diverse group of animals on the planet, with an estimated 30 million species!
A small group of insects called macroinvertebrate aquatic insects spend at least part or the majority of their lives in cold water and make up the bulk of a trout’s diet.
Besides being a food source, aquatic insects provide a valuable habitat service by eating dead or decaying bacteria, plants and animals while recycling important nutrients back into the water. They are very good indicators of water quality because they are easily affected by the chemical, physical and biological conditions of the water they live in.
Being able to identify aquatic insects by looking under rocks in the shallow parts of a mountain stream, river, pond or lake can help you determine what the fish are feeding on and, depending on the insects you find, determine the cleanliness of the water. Learn more about macroinvertebrates here.
IDENTIFY THE EXTERNAL BODY PARTS OF THE FISH
Use this downloadable lesson plan to:
• Name each of the exterior body parts of a fish.
• Give a basic explanation of how each body part works and helps fish to survive.
• Use this knowledge to become better anglers and have more success fishing.
KEEP A FISHING JOURNAL
Fishing can be a great way to spend the day outdoors but it can also be a learning experience. Showing our kids how to tie a knot, rig a rod, cast, set a hook and reel a fish in are skills we teach them.
There are other ways of helping new or young anglers sharpen their skills. Turn fishing trips into learning experiences that will help them become successful anglers for years to come. Lesson number one requires consistent record keeping.
Use our fishing journal template to:
• Name and describe the species of fish they catch.
• Learn successes and failures of fishing patterns and trends.
• Learn how to adjust to changing angling conditions.
• Sharpen fishing skills as well as lure / bait and tackle selection.