How young is too young to wade?

Aaron Cisneros
How young is too young to wade?
At a young age Daniel and Marcos Garza show no fear of wading the flats.

Summer is right around the corner; thousands of young folks like me will be let out of school soon. Many will head to the local waters for some unforgettable angling adventures, from the youngest that can barely walk to the teenager who can pretty much handle the angling part on his own. I can hardly wait for that last class bell to officially mark the beginning of summer, which for me translates to lots of time on the water.

I know that many young anglers like myself fish in many different ways, but in this article I want to perhaps spark an interest in young folks on how and why wade fishing can be really enjoyable and enlightening. No two wades are ever the same. While I wade, I am able to see and experience things I could never see from the boat. Such as the time I was walking back from a long wade, I ran into something that I could not identify. After showing it to my dad, he said it as a petrified tree trunk. That was a pretty unique find. If I had stayed in the boat I would have never run into that treasure.

My dad taught me how to wade at the age of six. I still remember my first pair of wading boots, belt and stringer. It was the greatest feeling to have my own equipment. I remember being very anxious to put them to use. The day finally came for my first wading experience; my dad allowed me to prepare my own tackle box. I slipped on my belt and stringer and off the boat I went. All the things I learned from watching my dad and his friends ran through my mind. Words like "keep shuffling your feet," "don't be so afraid of stingrays that you forget to fish" kept ringing in my ears.

On that first wade my dad and I were about thirty yards apart, but it seemed more like miles. I still remember feeling nervous about stepping on a stingray or messing up in some other way. My nervousness soon turned into excitement as I was working my gold spoon across a grass flat. A keeper redfish decided it was my time to experience what wade fishing was all about. The fish pulled hard, I set the hook, and I remember thinking, "now what?"

What if the fish runs in between my legs? I hope I can handle the fish properly without getting hooked. All this time my dad never moved and he never said a word although I knew he was watching me and ready to help if needed. I had caught fish before, but this was a different feeling. I strung the redfish and continued to catch other fish; as a matter of fact I out-fished my dad that day. This was a start of the love to jump in the water and explore the elements of our bays.

After that first successful trip things didn't go all easy. I remember on another occasion being last to get off the boat. My dad and a friend got way ahead. As I tried to catch up, I suddenly ran into what I dreaded most; a scary looking stingray. The ray caused me to freeze and run chills up my spine. I yelled for my dad, but he was too far to hear me. I must have stood in that one spot for more than thirty minutes before my father figured it out. By then I was crying and panic had set in. My dad had instructed me to always stay in the clearer water as you walk away from any ray, but I was to terrified to do anything. My dad had to literally grab a hold of me and move me away from the spot I last saw the stingray. In a past article I wrote about being hit by a stingray, but not even that stops me from jumping off the boat. I now wear my ForEverlast Ray Guards everywhere I go.

I have come to realize there is more than just having a fish bite at the end of your line; there's more to it than that. I have been on wades where at not too far distance there are deer or nilgai roaming the shorelines, coyotes singing their morning songs, birds protecting their young, seagulls working over pods of redfish, and osprey's dive bombing for their next meal. Being in the water just makes it all more fun for me.

Getting back to my point, how young is too young? I guess that all depends on how much time someone wants to spend with you. I felt very comfortable by the age of seven and have seen many kids wading by the age of ten to twelve. But, before you begin, you must be equipped with the right gear. Having a bright colored shirt is very important when wading. Kids don't stand out as much as adults, so a bright shirt will allow people to notice you on the water. Protection on your feet is a must; a belt and stringer that fits makes it all more comfortable. Also, a cap and polarized sunglasses are needed, and a good rod (Laguna) and reel combo certainly helps your chances at catching a few. Listening and being quick to learn will build up your confidence level; however, don't get discouraged when everyone catches but you. I can't tell you how many times that happened to me; I just kept plugging away and enjoying every moment of the experience.

Today, my dad pretty much lets me explore and fish on my own as long as he has sight of me. I have even had the pleasure of passing my knowledge on to some adults.

One day while wading with my dad's friend, I saw a group of tailing reds. I pointed them out to him and said I could get him close enough to drop a spoon in their mouth. He had never experienced tailing reds in shallow water. As we quietly stalked the tailing redfish he commented, "Son, if you put me on one of those redfish, I will give you a big bear hug and you will know you can do the impossible." I got him close enough to literally drop his spoon in the fish's mouth. The redfish went all over his spoon and peeled drag off his reel. I could see the sheer excitement in his expression; I knew he was as hooked. After landing that big redfish, he held good to his promise. He gave me a big bear hug and thanked me for the opportunity to catch a fish in the way that he did. That moment made me feel good in knowing I had helped make his day.

This summer if the opportunity arises to wade with someone that is experienced in wading, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity. You will have a blast. Take some time to read up on wade fishing techniques or checkout a video that might help. Perhaps you may experience it the best way; having your dad or another family member show you the proper techniques of wading. Be careful though you may not want to start school again when the first bell rings to mark the beginning of the new school year. I'm hooked on wading. Are you?