High school or college students and young families who are starting out sometimes need a place to get away from this demanding world where failure and rebuilding waits. What could be a better way to relax than fishing?

I wonder how young people manage to make ends meet in this age of financial corruption. My children are raised and are feeling the pinch of our tight-dollar woes brought to you by greedy people.

High school or college students and young families who are starting out sometimes need a place to get away from this demanding world where failure and rebuilding waits. What could be a better way to relax than fishing?

Fishing is an inexpensive sport – or expensive if you choose to invest in bass boats and all of the other gadgets that involve spending plenty of money. Truthfully, you can get by with a rod and reel with some kind of bait. Places to fish are unlimited thanks to city, state and federal lakes and streams that are full of fish.

And, oh, yes, did I mention that this hobby often means fresh fish for dinner? I supported myself in the early 1970s on what I caught in public lakes or shot during hunting season while struggling to raise a family and had a lot of fun doing it.

GETTING STARTED: What’s that, you’ve never gone fishing? No problem, there are plenty of places to check for free information. Start by contacting your local state fish and game department. They will give you tips on where to fish and techniques for each species.

Your local sporting goods department or tackle store will recommend what type of tackle you need too. Just make sure they don’t sell you more than is required for starting out.

I highly recommend that you start with a spincast reel and suitable rod. Spincast reels (I recommend Zebco or Diawa) are inexpensive and will not backlash. This little workhorse generally lasts a long time. Chances are good that you will eventually move up to spinning or bait casting reels, but for now start simple.

Ultralight rod and reels are excellent for children after they learn on the simple spincast versions. Take your child on a successful fishing trip and you might be surprised how prized that fishing rig will become.

Have the dealer put on 6- to 8-pound test line. Note that most spincast reels come already wound with the required line. You should avoid fishing for large fish until you understand fishing techniques. Besides, you may hook into a big bass or catfish at any given moment.

Buy a good selection of hooks, weights, bobbers, crappie jigs, small spinners like Mepps or Rooster Tails, a chain stringer or wire net fish sack, and you are ready to get started. A small tackle box should easily hold all of these items except the fish sack. Finally, purchase the annual fishing license, and it’s time to hit the shoreline.

LEARN THE BASICS TOGETHER: Start by practicing casting in the backyard. Make sure you avoid areas with power lines. You would be surprised how high a lure can be cast with an adequate reel and rod.

Learn in advance about hooks, lures and other tackle so you can teach your family. Take the time to explain why you are tying a certain hook or lure on the line. Younger children will have trouble mastering a well-tied knot on monofilament, but they can pick out brightly colored lures or certain bait.

Kids need to develop self-reliance and putting their own bait on the hook is a start. Yet, don’t force the issue. Some kids don’t want to touch a slimy old worm or minnow. This will change with time and experience.

WHAT TYPE OF FISH SHOULD I GO AFTER? The type of fish you try to catch depends on the season. Chances are you are starting out by bank fishing – a productive time in the spring when crappie are spawning and later when bluegill are on their spawning beds. Later catfish might bite.

The trick is knowing what to fish for and where. Again your fish and game commission will help you with this information. Everything depends on where you live, too. Fish in a northern climate have different habits from fish in the southern regions.

SHOULD WE GET A BABY SITTER? Good grief, no. Few experiences are better for children. The exception might be if you want some quiet time alone on a fishing bank.

Should you choose to take the kids, find a place where you can keep a close eye on them. They will eventually become bored and wonder off in search of the treasures found at the edge of shorelines, so use this opportunity as a learning experience. Make sure they have a life jacket on if they are out of your sight.

Even the most careful scouting and planning will not mean the fish will bite. While waiting, point out nature like a swimming water snake, soaring hawks, tadpoles and fluttering dragonflies. Your child will start appreciating nature at an early age.

Again, watch them closely. It only takes a few inches of water to drown in.

ANOTHER PROBLEM OF TAKING THE FAMILY FISHING: Convenience is a key word for taking first-timers fishing. Bathroom breaks, for example, are essential. Will your family be content to go in the woods or should you fish where an outhouse is present?

Bathroom facilities are always welcomed, but not always present. Remember to bring a small spade and toilet paper. Burying waste products is an important environmental lesson for kids and adults.

Be sure that you dig the hole at least 75 feet from the shoreline to avoid drainage into the lake or pond.

FOOD: Sandwiches, snacks and drinks are mandatory. Early trips should associate fishing with pleasure.

This is a good time for your family to learn the importance of picking up their trash and taking it to a suitable trash can. Point out trash that someone left on an earlier trip and show how it spoils the beauty of nature. Sadly, it is not hard to find examples on most fishing lakes or ponds.

SETTING THE HOOK: Want a divorce? Then spend an afternoon yelling at your spouse on how and when to set the hook.

Beginning fishermen will likely lose a fish or two by setting the hook too hard. Teaching them to set the hook quickly but gently will improve their technique.

Remember to let them land a fish, even if you have to set the hook and hand them the rod. You can explain setting the reel’s drag when the child develops more skill and understanding.

PROPERLY FITTING LIFE VESTS: This section is for those lucky enough to have boat access. Each person in a boat must wear a life jacket. Make sure the vest fits snugly and comfortably. Trying to fit an adult-sized vest on a child’s frame is a mistake. The child will be uncomfortable and it is unsafe.

Remember to avoid boat rings, inner tubes or float toys. Instead, take your child to a store and find a U.S. Coast Guard-approved version that fits. Convincing the child to wear that vest – even on hot, sticky days – is the adult’s responsibility. You can set a good example by wearing a vest too.

BE A WEATHER WATCHER: Choose your days well before taking that child fishing. Avoid windy, rainy or cold days. Bluebird days are the best for the best childhood memories. Remember to take extra jackets for weather changes.

KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE: Boredom in adults or youth may strike at any time – even when the fish are biting.

Forcing your family to stay out longer than they desire is a good way to turn them off fishing forever. A friend will sometimes make the child want to stay longer. Naturally this doubles the demands on adults. Ideally, there should be an adult for each child under 10.

More than one youngster on the trip will likely result in horsing around or making unnecessary noise. This is a good time to exhibit adult patience.

I am not endorsing a total breakdown of discipline. But remember that you brought children to the water for the same enjoyment that you have experienced for many years. That child who is scaring the fish away will someday become a serious and dedicated angler.

Want some good, clean inexpensive fun in the outdoors? Take your family fishing. Again, a little preparation might be the beginning of a real fishing family.