There is some truth to great anglers being born, not made—but someone, somewhere had to recognize the talent and thirst for fishing, or otherwise a young would-be angler may not have received the opportunity to develop their passion.
Minnesota-based professional walleye angler Ross Grothe, a successful businessman, builder and dedicated husband and father, knows that time on the water with his two young sons is vital to their development as future fishermen. With added support from his wife Karisa, they invest in family fishing time as a team—and it’s having an impact.
“I knew that pushing them into fishing to support my dream as a dad could make them dislike the sport—and that’s the last thing I wanted. So, I let them choose when they were ready to go,” he explains. “Fishing is a lifestyle for our family. I wasn’t surprised when my eldest son Reid asked if he could fish a tournament with me.”
In 2014 the AIM Pro Walleye Series introduced a 1-day Weekend Series under a team format that was directed at attracting the grass-roots anglers through a less demanding structure, but still paid out at a level that would attract competitors from across the Midwest.
“I had to practice for these tournaments differently than I would have on the top levels of professional walleye angling,” he says. “Because he is still a little kid, I had to find a fish-catching technique that he could perform—and catch fish—with confidence. Reid quickly picked up each tactic and caught the kind of fish that led Team Grothe to a 4th place finish in the Team of the Year race and a berth into the championship.
A Young Pro Is Born
“I arranged our practice schedule so that our whole family could be in camp with plenty of time for fun,” he contines. When Reid needed a break, which wasn’t often, I would take him to shore, drop him off and I would continue to practice. He would still insist on fishing from the dock until he was called in for supper.”
As the father-son duo wrapped up their season Grothe was immersed with positive feedback, support and messages from fellow competitors who were very impressed with Reid’s candor, dedication and obvious passion for fishing.
“He was an inspiration to many anglers,” Grothe says. “I really believe that too many people think kids need to reach a certain age before they are exposed to fishing—or even competitive angling for that matter, in fear of ruining them before they’ve ‘grown up.’ The important thing is to recognize how and when kids start fishing is largely relative to how and when Dad or Grandpa go fishing.
Just Go Fishing
“I firmly believe that many of today’s digital devises and activities are keeping our kids from becoming immersed in the great outdoors,” he says. “I was raised outside and the lifestyle taught me a lot about respect, conservation and time well spent. It doesn’t matter what kind of fish, where you fish or how you fish—just take your kids fishing.
“Sure, catching fish is important—so do your homework! But, the No. 1 objective needs to be about making it fun,” he says. “Kids have a funny way of knowing when you have ulterior motives. Just get them out there and enjoy it. This past summer has been one of the best of my life, and I’m very proud!”
Here are a couple of videos of Reid's pre-game game face!