I MAKE IT a practice to never offer advice to anyone except my children and they generally ignore it anyway. Today, I will offer a piece of advice; a piece of advice I would hope every fisherman would heed.

Never take an 8-year-old fishing. I made that mistake a week ago and having learned my lesson, I might well never do it again. You may carefully tell them how and where to fish and what to do when a fish bites, and they will do everything just the opposite while proceeding to catch more fish than everyone else in the boat put together.

A bright, warm and sunny afternoon a week or so ago, I took an 8-year-old named Zander and his grandfather fishing. Grandpa is a friend of mine, someone who has fished and hunted with me off and on beginning back when Hector was a pup.

This day, our quarry was bass, smallmouth and largemouth. We pushed off in my Old Town with a nice breeze blowing and the sun out in full force. I rigged up floating jig and small split shot rigs for both of them, using crawlers for bait. I stuck to my favorite artificial lure for bass, a lure called Mimic Minnow. While I rowed, and offered advice and counsel to Zander, he and Grandpa worked their rigs. “Cast it out and give it a few seconds to sink to the bottom,” I counseled Zander. “Give the bass a little time to find your crawler.” While Grandpa fished the way jig fishermen have fished forever, Zander did it his way. After each cast, instead of the slow lift and drop or gentle twitch or two or three turns of the reel handle with a rest in between that I advised, Zander found it more convenient to just reel in his crawler whenever and however fast he felt like it.

Grandpa went quite a while without catching so much as a dandiprat of a bass. I caught the first two, but they were juvenile delinquents about a foot long. Then, Zander got busy. Over the next few hours, on his own, he caught at least a dozen bass. Grandpa finally caught two or three bass, one of them about 17 inches long. I caught a few more, with the biggest topping out at 19. I say that Grandpa and I caught fish, but actually, each time we hooked one, the rod somehow immediately wound up in Zander’s hands.

Again, my cautionary advice to not horse the fish, to let them give a good fight and to not reel up too close to the jig was largely ignored. Oh, the bass were given ample opportunity to fight, especially the half dozen or so that went 2 or 3 pounds, but in the end, each was cranked up close, usually within a couple feet of the end of the line. None broke the line and none were lost, so who was I or Grandpa to argue with success.

Zander was a fisherman and I mean that in the sense that unlike a lot of 8-year-olds he never wanted to quit — even after four hours in a small boat — he never complained about slow periods when the bass seemed to quit on us and that he kept on doing what he was doing his way to catch the most fish when he was getting plenty of advice to do otherwise.

It was one of my most fun outings of the summer so far. It was, as I have often found while fishing with friends who are very casual fishermen with little or no knowledge of technique, that doing things a certain way means nothing when doing something else has the rod bending. Too often, we fishermen who have been plying our trade for decades get tied up in catching big fish or lots of fish by doing it the tried and true way, when we should be remembering that fishing is and always should be about having fun.

Watching a youngster at work, a smile ever present on his or her face, listening to their excited chatter and having fun every minute they are on the water is what fishing is all about.

It’s a lesson I have learned and relearned many times over the years as I have fished with neophytes young and old who just wanted to catch a fish, no matter how big or small.

I learned that quite a few years ago, while fishing with my daughter-in-law, who had already been getting fishing lessons from my son. When she and I were paired in an annual opening day competition with my son and “Dirty” Doug McDrew, a pair who never hesitated to throw a book of dirty tricks at Holli and me in order to win, I was always happy to be in the boat with the prettiest fisherman of the bunch, who also was often the luckiest of the bunch.

The only thing I had to constantly, but gently reprimand her for, was loudly proclaiming to our competition and every other fisherman on the lake that she had just caught a huge or at least semi-huge walleye. I also learned my lessons from other neophytes. One outing I remember well was an opening day evening spent with one of Holli’s best friends who had never caught anything bigger than a 6-inch bluegill in her life. While Holli, my son and the McKay boys fished from a boat loaded with pedestal seats, electronics and every other fishing gewgaw known to man, Leah and I fished from my little 10-foot jon boat a quarter-mile away from our competition.

Throughout the evening, as I lectured her on how to cast and slowly retrieve a jig and minnow combo, Leah caught walleye after walleye by casting and cranking line in as though a great white was about to take her arm off. That’s not the way to do it, I gently counseled her throughout the evening, until I got to counting her catch total at 10 walleyes to my two. The margin was even greater by the time we called it quits.

I couldn’t have asked for a better outing. Remembering it leaves me with one other bit of advice which you may take for what it’s worth. Don’t take an 8-year-old fishing and don’t take a novice young woman fishing. They will out fish you up, down, inside and out.

On the other hand, should you go ahead and fish with such companions, I guarantee you’ll never have more fun in your life than watching them do it.