With the Blue and Gold banquet behind us and Wolf badges completed, we are moving on to the extra awards! For the Cub Scout World Conservation Award, our scouts must complete all of the Fishing arrow points (Elective 19). Lucky for us, we meet in a gym, so we have plenty of room to practice our casting!
I picked up some gear the day before at the local Wal-mart. The guy in the sporting goods section was able to get me copies of the 2006 Illinois Fishing Information book issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. These are issued free by the State of Illinois, so he was able to give me a copy for each boy. The center of the book had great pictures of the fish of our state. As the boys gathered, they reviewed the pictures. As we had slack time throughout the night, I had one dad quizzing the boys with flashcards I had made from the pictures. (Elective 19a)
I brought in a section of a cane pole for each boy. If you don't have enough, get creative! We were one short and grabbed a piece of PVC pipe from our den doodle. We had the boys line up with their poles and cut out lengths of fishing line about one and a half times the length of the pole. You are guaranteed to see a lot of choice martial arts moves while they are waiting, so make sure your poles can take it!
The boys started by tying line to the end of the cane pole. A couple of overhand knots will do fine. Then we added our bobbers by wrapping the line under the spring. Next each boy added one piece of lead shot to the line below the bobber. Some boys had problems squeezing the shot closed, but a pair of needlenose pliers did the trick!
Then we tied on our hooks using a trilene knot. For safety, we used Christmas tree ornaments as our hooks. If you don't have any handy, bent paperclips would work too! Reshape either so the hook has a closed end. I printed a copy of the directions for a trilene knot for each boy, but it ended up being easier to show them (but nice to take home as a reminder!).
Finally, we added the worms! I picked up three packs of the most realistic looking rubber worms from Wal-mart. I had a lot of fun passing these out! We taught the boys to use the whole worm, passing the worm through the hook about every inch or so, making sure to let the ends of the worm dangle out. (Fishing Belt Loop requirement 2)
After the were done, we slid the whole rig to the bottom of the line, and tried it out in a clear plastic water pitcher. The boys learned that one piece of lead shot was not enough to make our bobbers stand up. After adding a few more, they were satisfied with their efforts! For a few boys, we put their rig in without any lead shot or with too much line so they would know what it meant if their bobber was lying flat on the water.
After getting a cane pole rigged up (Elective 19b, Fishing pin requirement 9), we practiced our casting with a rod and push-button reel. We tied a metal nut to the end of each line. Originally I was going to use a lead sinker, but the ones I brought were way too heavy! With a little flick, it easily crossed the gym. One nut per line (that we scrounged from the maintenace room) was just heavy enough to cast, and light enough not to go too far (or break anything).
For safety sake, give some thought about how you line up and space out the boys. We didn't, and were pretty lucky no one got clubbed. Step number one: check that no one is around you while you are casting. Step 2: press and hold the button with your thumb. Step 3: bring your rod back over your shoulder. Stop at 10 o'clock. Step 4: Using your wrist, snap the rod forward, releasing the button around 12 o'clock. Each boy practiced twice, and handed the rod to the next boy in line. (Elective 19f, Fishing pin requirement 6)
Towards the end, we had a lot boys who were having as much fun being a fish as a fisherman. I took the opportunity to show how to land a fish (a scout at the end of my line!). We talked about letting the fish take some of the line out, and listen to the sound the reel made. We saw how to set the drag on the reel to increase the line tension. Then I showed how to slowly pull up the line and reel in the slack.
Now all we need is some warmer weather to hit the lake...
- Cub Scout World Conservation Award requirements
- Wolf fishing arrow point electives
- Fishing belt loop and pin requirements
- Good fishing book - my inspiration for a lot of what we did
- How to tie a trilene knot
- Pictures of Major Illinois Sport Fish from the 2005 Illinois Fishing Information book (page 36 and 37). Check out the DNR website for your home state.