by Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
I would like to praise all the organizations and businesses that sponsor kid's fishing contests, and have continued for years, realizing many children wouldn't get this opportunity to fish if it wasn't for these events. Just in Niagara County alone, there are more than what I know of or care to count. They all do the same thing, get the kids out with their parents or a guardian and show them there are other things in life besides the four walls in their house with light bulbs, while staring at an iPod, electronically speaking to their friends or buddies.
Of course, you need parents to get them up off their duff. You need organizers for these events, and cooperative parents. Sometimes the parents need a kick in the seat to get them rolling too.
Here is one way to start a kid fishing, and you don't need a boat to do this nor do you need expensive equipment. All that can come later. A lot of kids think, "I wish I could go fishing like some of my friends do, but ... ." Nowadays, some of these kids are hesitant to ask their parents or another adult to get them started, and not sure whether to put the iPod down long enough to try it. Another thing, a lot of these young parents today never went fishing themselves, so they are hesitant about taking a kid fishing.
You can gather your own bait, it's free or you can go to the store and buy it. But when these kids are young, the anticipation of going fishing the next day is similar to when Santa arrives at Christmas time. Gathering your own bait (worms) the night before is even more thrilling, especially when they catch a fish on the very same worm they caught the night before. That's where it starts.
Young mothers and fathers don't need to worry about worms, they are harmless. They are disease free, don't have any way to bite you, and positively don't smell. If you must, put some gloves on if you don't like the feel in your hand. The kids will handle them just fine if mom or dad doesn't act like they were a bad thing.
You do this often enough, you will be so accustomed to it that it will come as second nature. Gee, I have seen kids with squeamish parents, take over the whole fishing trip and now the parents start learning from the kids. They'll bait their own hook, toss the line out, catch their own fish, bring it in, and handle that fish like they were little generals.
When these kids are young, don't worry if they lose interest in fishing. Let them wander about, let them turn over rocks to see the kind of life that lives under them, show them how to skip stones on the water, give them some freedom - that is all a part of the adventure. I call it discovering your surroundings.
A guy I know who lives in Ransomville is one of those parents and now a grandfather that doesn't need kicking - he has made it a vocation to get his young kids and family out in the woods and on the water. Ed Mort has made it a passion to do just that. If you recall, Mort along with his buddy, Roy Barr, are the guys in a story I wrote a while ago who took out a homeless man named Jesse Owens fishing for a day. Unfortunately, that was the elderly Owens' last fishing excursion as he passed away shortly after. The day fishing with Owens is etched in Mort's head.
Mort has always embedded fishing and hunting in his children's heads, and now the grandkids are at it. Just recently the Wilson Conservation Club held its annual fishing contest for kids. Mort entered three of his grandkids in the contest and they all finished at the top and took home trophies and prizes - new rods and reels. If you know Mort like I know him, each one of those kids earned their own prizes, and of course grandpa knew where to go with his "fish finding senses."
In fact, ever since those kids were little, like Edward Lucas Mort, the little grandson in the photo, above, they were always taught the right way to do sporting things. Joining him are (left to right) Dominic Lowman, Nico Lowman and Damon Lowman. The guy holding baby Edward is gramps.
Take the only dollar you have and I bet you will win. Trouble just doesn't follow kids who would rather be fishing.
One of Mort's sons is a U.S. Border Patrol agent of six years; he has just returned home for a stint and you can bet he'll be on the water catching and relaxing.
Like the old saying goes: "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish, you'll feed him for a lifetime."
•In a recent email received from David S. pertaining to the mute swan story and the state Department of Environmental Conservation proposal to eliminate mute swans, he, like me, has an affection toward our state DEC. But he adds, "My advice to these agencies (DEC, USFWS etc.) would be to calm down, take a deep breath, show us the data, show us how the presence of these swans is actually damaging native ecosystems, and then ramp up your efforts toward the invasive plant and animal species that are really doing documented damage" (i.e. zebra mussels, purple loose strife etc.).
•I received another lengthy email regarding the swans from a reader in Syracuse and he hit some major points when defending the mutes versus the trumpeter swan, which are left alone because they are considered "native" in the U.S. One thing brought to light was "the bigger trumpeter swan eats more and poops more." Plus, "a mature adult (trumpeter) will consume up to 20 pounds of wet herbage each day. DEC reports the mute swan eats 3-4 pounds a day."
These readers are both from out of the Sentinel circulation area and found the story on the Sentinel website, www.wnypapers.com.
•When I think about this subject of destroying mute swans because they are not "native," what rolls through my head is, bees are native to North America but honey bees are not. Neither are ringneck pheasants as one reader noted. Because they are not native, does that mean we destroy them also? Are they causing harm to the ecosystem?
•According to an informed comment, "The bill was delivered to the governor's office on Friday, June 20. He has until June 30 to sign it or veto it. If he does neither, it will become automatically law on July 1. He has asked for more information from the assembly sponsor Steven Cymbrowitz - which indicates that his staff is considering it, which is probably good news."
•So Smart Sez: Here's our education for this week: Did you ever hear of a "stoolie" in fishing terms? Well, there is such a thing, and a proper way to use one.
A stoolie is not a kitchen or bar "stool" or even a person being called a stool pigeon. A stoolie is a name given to a small fish (e.g. herring) that is fastened through the lips to the end of the fishing line with a special safety pin or a special circle hook then tossed in the water to attract other fish near enough to be caught or netted. This method is popular along the east coast in water where fishermen fish for striped bass, such as the Hudson River.
Lesson learned - that little fish is officially called the "stoolie."
Remember when I say, "Take a kid fishing," it's not just meant for boys. Girls love to fish, too, and don't forget the elderly. Mort doesn't.