As a young boy, my earliest fishing memories were of catching bluegills with friends in a small pond in our neighborhood. We carried with us nothing but a few hand-me-down rods and a can of garden worms, but we experienced far more success than not.

Those eager little fish were easy to catch, beautifully-colored, and best of all, fun. They also began a love affair with fishing that has lasted nearly 40 years.

My introduction to fishing as a kid was not much different than that of many other lifelong anglers. Catching bluegills is as synonymous with youthful summers as homemade ice cream and chasing fireflies in a dusky backyard. It also affords the perfect vehicle for introducing a kid to the sport of fishing.

One of the keys to doing just that is ensuring that they catch fish right away. Kids get excited when the fish are biting but lose interest quickly when they are not. Bluegills are easy to catch and do not require sophisticated techniques or precise lures to fool. Kids will want to return to fishing if their initial experience was a positive one, and bluegills give them the best chance to have one.

Kids will also get more satisfaction catching a good number of smaller, easier-to-catch fish like bluegills than just a few larger ones such as bass. Children's short attention spans are well-documented and understood by parents worldwide.

If not fishing from a boat, a safe, comfortable spot along the bank of a pond should be chosen where there is the likelihood of fish. Areas near aquatic vegetation or other structure such as brush piles, fallen logs, and boat docks are good bets.

Larger bluegills can be found in clear water with plenty of aquatic vegetation nearby. Very large bluegill can grow to a pound or more in size.

If there is no action after the first 10 or 15 minutes, move to a new location. If there are fish in the area, they will usually bite right away.

Using bait is the traditional and tried-and-true technique for catching bluegills. It's also the easiest technique for a youngster to learn and use. Garden worms, wax worms, and crickets are all favored baits for catching scrappy little bluegill. Don't be surprised if the kids find the bait just as interesting as the fishing itself.

Suspending the bait below a large visible bobber or float adds drama and another point of interest for the kids. The initial twitching of the bobber as the bluegill nibbles at the bait followed by it finally disappearing will be a child's first sensory introduction to the sport. Even as an adult, it's still thrilling.

Bluegills are a hard-fighting fish for their size, and their toughness can be further amplified by using ultra-light gear and light line. Equipment should be kept simple and trouble-free as possible. Nothing will frustrate and turn off kids more than equipment malfunctions and complex gear. A spincast outfit with a push-button reel is easy to cast and maintenance-free.

Bluegill fishing also does not require complicated nor costly equipment, so keep it simple. No long-distance travel is necessary to find bluegills, nor is a boat needed to reach them. A beginner's set of rod, reel, bobber, and hooks costs less then a single computer video game, and any number a small ponds and lakes throughout South Carolina are loaded with this scrappy little fish.

It has been documented many times that sales of fishing licenses are down significantly across the nation. Studies have also shown that the seeds for a lifetime of fishing are sown at an early age. Ninety percent of adult freshwater anglers started at age 12 or younger, and 96 percent started before the age of 18. Only four percent of anglers actually picked up the sport as adults. If a youngster does not pick up a fishing rod by the time he or she graduated from high school, it's highly unlikely he will become an angler as an adult.

The bluegill is a red-blooded, all-American freshwater fish that is responsible for more lifelong anglers than any other influence. If you have been considering taking a kid fishing, there is not better time than now and no better fish to introduce them to than the beloved bluegill.