Share your pastime this holiday

The Memorial Day Weekend provides Americans a chance to enjoy free time with family members, friends and children while honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

For many of us, that time will be spent camping or hanging out around water, be it your favorite lake, river or pond.

The holiday provides you an excellent opportunity to introduce others to fishing. Kids are great candidates, but don’t forget the adults who may have never had the opportunity to hold a rod.

When you do, make sure you put them in a situation where they will get some action.

I recommend targeting panfish, since you can’t beat a bobber and a red worm for enticing fish to bite. Bluegills are spawning throughout much of the country, and spawning bluegills are easy to target.

The key is to keep it simple and let the person enjoy the thrill of the bite and success at landing fish.

The same strategy should be used if fishing for bass. You don’t want to start novice anglers out with a jig, but something they can work effortlessly and get them bites, regardless of the size of fish.

Kids typically need something they can move, like a small crankbait or spinnerbait that doesn’t require a lot of skill to manipulate or hook the fish.

Another simple presentation that attracts bites is a wacky-rigged worm or a stick worm like the Strike King Ocho. They are very effective at catching fish and are easy to use.

In fact, if you’re fishing around spawning bluegill, remember that bass will hang out around these bedding areas to pluck off wandering ‘gills. The Ocho cast around the edges of those beds could produce some nice bass.

The Ocho comes in sizes from 4 to 7 inches, but the 4-incher is going to attract more bites.

My favorite way of wacky rigging is to poke the hook of a small jighead through the mid-section of an Ocho so that both ends dangle. Cast it out and let it fall seductively. The light weight of the jig head enhances casting distance and allows it to sink a bit faster yet stay in the strike zone longer. A 3/32 or 1/16 ounce will suffice, but if fishing deeper water you can go a little heavier.

If you don’t have a light jighead, simply crimp a small split shot on a drop-shot hook and rig the bait wacky style. It will do the job.

This lightly weighted wacky rig is my choice for fishing around boat docks or rocky shores – areas with sparse cover.

Now, if fishing around brush or grass, rig the Ocho with the traditional Texas-style method with the barb of the hook buried just beneath the skin of the worm to keep it from snagging in the cover.

Other lure options are small spinnerbaits, like the Mini King, that catch bass and panfish, or the Bitsy Pond Minnow or KVD 1.0. These smaller baits do attract more strikes.

For gear, light tackle spinning or spincast gear is the best for newcomers. Light line is easier to manage and enhances casting distance.

Just remember, keep it simple and fun – and don’t forget it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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