Lindsay + Tim Stockhecke
There are fishing families, those who learned to bait a hook before they could ride a bike, and then there are the rest of us. Fishing for those not raised within a fishing family can feel daunting, as any new venture with children can be. It has variables built in that present challenges for both the impatient youngster and adults alike by way of difficult simplicity. It seems so easy to drop a line in a pool of water and wait for that sweet nibble, but the reality is so much more nuanced. The uncertainty of catching anything at all, the inevitable tangling of lines, a potential hook in an eyeball. Admittedly, these maternal fishing loops play in my mind when considering a fishing trip with the family but, the benefits of learning to fish as a family, even for a day are worth it. With several lakes located throughout Jackson County, Illinois, and the Shawnee National Forest fishing as a family is a great recreational activity to try out.
We recently visited Lake Murphysboro for the first time and found it to be such a beautiful lake we couldn’t believe we hadn’t visited before. Located just a mile off of Mainstreet, this state park offers the following amenities:
- 54 RV camping sites and 20 tent camping sites with electric hookup
- Pavilion available for rent
- Variety of fish, ie large mouth bass, blue gill, sunfish, channel catfish and crappie
- Seven miles of shoreline with multiple docks
- Non-motor boating allowed
Together with the kids we compiled a list of our pros, cons to fishing, and why the cons are actually pros.
- Pro “It’s so peaceful!” | When we asked each of our children their favorite part of fishing each one described how calm and peaceful the experience is. While there are moments where they inevitably do not feel relaxed, this is the takeaway and the lasting feeling they described.
- Con “Getting excited to catch a fish when it’s really just stuck in the weeds” | We have found this to be a fairly common occurrence for us, so I would imagine it’s universal. That feeling when you have a bite, you gear up to reel ‘er in only to discover there’s no fish at all but rather a stubborn cluster of who knows what clinging to your hook. While frustrating this presents an opportunity to move through disappointment and problem-solve.
- Pro “Making memories together” | Finding moments to slow down and connect with one another can be challenging in our fast-paced world. Oftentimes when we do have a family outing there are things that distract from our intended quality time. When going fishing there isn’t a line to be waited in, no tickets to be purchased, and nobody encroaching on your space. It’s an opportunity to enjoy what is, which is undeniably rare and valuable these days.
- Con “Sometimes I feel patient but sometimes I am so impatient and have a hard time waiting for a fish” | Patience is a muscle that needs to be flexed, often. Challenging ourselves to slow down in an intentional way and in turn model this for our children is built into the nature of fishing. Knowing the very essence of the activity requires it can help to manage this expectation going into it.
- Pro “The time to experience lots of nature” | A lot of outdoor time for us is activity focused, sometimes being more engaged with the activity than nature. Fishing allows you to take in all of your surroundings. The inevitable slow pace pulls your eye to the minute details around you, accessing the experience through all of your senses. We like to take time to identify what we see, hear, smell, etc to maximize our awareness and enjoyment.
- Con “It can be so hot just sitting out there waiting” | Experiencing and enjoying life under all weather circumstances is a skill that benefits from a little fine-tuning. Summer humidity, rain, and more can put a dent in plans when not prepared but, there’s no such thing as bad weather just bad preparations. Take the opportunity to expect the unexpected, do a little prep work ahead of time, and enjoy the experience in spite of whatever weather comes your way.
Whether visiting for the day or staying to camp, fishing at Lake Murphysboro is a great summer bucket list item for the whole family.