One of the very first thing parents or mentors should do with youngsters is to teach them how to hold a fish. It doesn’t matter if they’re grabbing a big bass, a catfish or a tiny bluegill, all fish have fins that will stick you if not handled properly.
Just one bad stick from the dorsal spine of a little bluegill might scare a youngster away from handling fish for years… and maybe scare them away from fishing entirely.
When you are introducing youngsters to fishing, always spend some quality time devoted entirely to teaching them how to grab or hold a fish. It is a simple, yet important lesson, that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Many times the smaller species are the worst. A favorite technique is to create a partial circle using your thumb and fingers. Then raise the fish upwards, head first, into the circle. This forces the sharp dorsal spines downward, folding them flat where you can grip the fish firmly for unhooking.
In this video from long ago, Jacob VanZant demonstrates the technique on a small yellow bass. Jacob has grown into an avid and accomplished crappie angler now.