Coulson: Fishing shows can be a fun outing for kids – The Coloradoan

Last weekend was spent at the International Sportsman’s Exposition. Normally when I visit a show, a half day is more than sufficient to visit friends and the booths of interest. This year I managed to get in three days.

Friday was strictly business. The evening was spent at the ISE Tying Booth demonstrating fly tying alongside three other tiers. Saturday, I tied during the evening shift again, but ended up going down for the full day as I had a meeting in Denver before the show. I made a day of it, visiting the show before tying flies. Needless to say, by the time the show closed, I was ready to head home.

So why attend Sunday? Turns out that was the only day Cody was free to attend and take the granddaughters, Alexandria and EllieMae. Remembering the fun we had the year prior, I figured a repeat trip was in order. That morning we met Donna and Gary, the girls’ other grandparents, for breakfast and as a group attended the show. It always amazes me how it’s a chore for four adults to keep track of two kids.

At almost the ages of 2 and 4, I’m not sure how much the girls understand what’s going on. Still, I’m sure they take in more than we give them credit for. That became obvious when Alexandria commented on things she’d done at last year’s show with her Uncle Tyler. Regardless, it’s obvious to me the girls enjoy these outings. The crowds, lights, noise, time with dad and grandparents all make for a good time.

Alexandria loved the fish tank, where we spent time watching and talking about the trout swimming around. I worked with her on distinguishing between the species, cutthroat, rainbow, brown and brook trout. Throughout the show we were able to point out various fish and animals.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) had a large number of booths and educational activities for all, kids and adults alike. This year the lines were short for the kids’ fishing area, so I took Alexandria through. Turns out it wasn’t my best choice of activities. Primarily because Alexandria has done enough fishing that, from her perspective, fishing entails casting and retrieving a lure, which wasn’t possible in the limited space. The fishing consisted of the assistant putting a rod in the child’s hand, hooking a fish, and then landing and showing the child their catch.

Personally, I think they could have put a platform for the kids to stand on around the tanks, allowing them to be at least waist level with the tank edge, and then let the kids “fish” by holding and jiggling the lure, ice jigs in this case, until they hooked a fish. Take all of a couple minutes given the aggressive nature of the hungry trout in the tank. That way the kids would get a bit more of a fishing/catching experience. Still, Alexandria was OK with it and wanted me to fish also. Ah, well, spring will soon be here.

The live raptors CPW was exhibiting — eagle, hawk, owl and falcon — captivated the girls. Both are fearless around animals and wanted to pet the birds. While not possible, the hawk handler did drop down with the hawk to Alexandria’s eye level and answered a number of her questions. I’ve no doubt she’ll remember that for a long time.

Fishing and hunting shows aren’t typically designed with kids in mind, although many of the booths, especially CPW’s, are kid-friendly, offering a variety of enjoyable educational experiences. While taking the girls to the ISE wasn’t a fishing outing, it was close.

Email Dave Coulson at dave@fishexplorer.com

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