Never underestimate how closely you are being watched.

That warning is especially true if kids are around. Sure, they might not LOOK like they are paying attention, but you had better quickly drop any misguided illusions that they aren’t.

If you’re doubtful, try this little experiment: Say something derogatory about something like a particular brand of product when the kids are within earshot and then go shopping with them.

Deliberately put the aforementioned item in your shopping cart and watch what happens.

You are being watched.

Now, the upshot to this is that through careful mentoring and guidance, you can instill your love of the outdoors and fishing and such into those same malleable kids who would unwittingly pass along any disparaging remarks you made about the neighbor during dinner one night to that very same neighbor during your annual summer block party.

Since you are being watched, I say – use it to your advantage

Case in point: our God-daughter has heard me talk long and lovingly about fishing since she was old enough to understand the meaning of the word. By carefully encouraging her and coaching her on the virtues of fishing (there are some!) she naturally now wants to go fishing with her Uncle Dan. I have even given her a pink Barbie pole and tackle box just to let her know that fishing can be chic and stylish. I carefully and deliberately model my behavior and speak enthusiastically about the “benefits” of things like hooking yourself, and getting spined and stepping in duck droppings and using porta-potties that are long overdue for emptying and…well, you get the picture and, as far as my God-daughter is concerned, all those things are part of fishing and are somehow part of the fun – though sometimes she is not quite sure if I truly understand the definition of “fun”.

Nevertheless, she likes fishing and always wants to know if I still like fishing even after a fishless expedition.

I know I am being watched.

So a couple of weekends ago, I had an opportunity to once again expand my God-daughter’s idea of what constitutes “fun” when it comes to fishing.

Through a series of convoluted scheduling changes I was able to spend the afternoon at Downey Wilderness Park with her and our fishing gear. I hadn’t read of any recent fish plants so I knew the odds of actually catching anything there were already pretty slim but it was the place with the easiest access within the time frame we had.

With this information already in the back of my mind, I decided to put the emphasis on technique and style. I rigged her pole with a fairly heavy egg sinker and I let her pick the color of Power Bait (despite my dislike of bait-fishing). We settled on neon green which I dubbed “booger bait” much to my protégé’s delight. I baited her hook, pretended to lick the leftover “booger bait” from my fingers, again to her delight and disgust, then reviewed proper casting technique and finally just let her go for it.

Sure enough her first cast sailed halfway across the narrow section of the pond I had deliberately chosen and her confidence level soared. Anyone within earshot surely heard how amazing that first cast was. Then, after untangling the ensuing birds-nest and re-reviewing the intricacies of spinning reels in kidspeak, I set up shop next to her.

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