It can be easy to overlook some essentials when planning a fishing trip with young kids. For everyone’s sake, making fishing trips as easy and fun as possible is the goal. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to achieve this. So, read on to discover 7 tips for fishing with kids. They’ll help you get the most out of your family fishing trips and teach your kids to love fishing.
Do You Remember Your First Fishing Trip?
For those of us with kids, our first fishing trip was long ago. Or at least it seems that way. You may be able to remember the first time you caught a fish, but I sure don’t. I do remember trial by fire on a rocky bank of a slow-moving and clear river. I had slipped away with one of my dad’s fishing poles. Neither of my parents knew where I’d gone. They were busy relaxing on our family vacation.
I had a lot of trouble getting the hang of casting, and I’m pretty sure the expedition ended when I snagged the hook on the riverbed. I definitely did not catch a fish that day. That same trip, my dad taught me the fundamentals. I still didn’t catch a fish, but I grew more comfortable with the pole in my hands. Despite the difficulty at first, learning to fish was a great experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Tip 1: Scope Your Spot
Before you bring your kids to a fishing spot, try to scope it out yourself. If you can’t get there before, chances are you can do some online research. Make sure it’s reasonably easy to reach for your kids and that it’s not unduly dangerous. Snakes, cliffs, fast-moving water, and treacherous terrain are all things to avoid, if possible. You’ll want to make fishing trips with young kids as easy as possible.
As a bonus, see if there’s anything fun for the kids to do if the fish aren’t biting.
If you’re going out on a boat, keep in mind that kids have a difficult time sitting for long periods. Plus, consider their smaller bladders. If your boat is large enough to move around in freely– and has a bathroom– great! If you’re going out on a smaller boat, you may have to find places on the shore to stop to take a break and let your child go to the bathroom.
Tip 2: Build Up To Fishing
A great way to introduce your kids to fishing is to start with small demonstrations or videos—no more than 10 or 15 minutes. Any longer and they’re apt to lose interest. You can teach sidearm casting techniques (which children should utilize for safety) in the backyard.
It’s also a good idea to get a fishing pole designed for kids like this one. Its perfectly sized for children, comes in boys and girls colors, and comes with everything they need to get started.
Pull up a video on YouTube about the fundamentals. Pull up pictures of the fish you hope to catch. Show them the bait, lures, and other supplies you’ll be using. It’s also a good time to mention safety and how you need to be careful with the hooks.
Tip 3: Start Small (Literally)
Starting small means a couple of things in this instance. Number one is the type of fish you’re going to catch. Smaller fish are easier for kids to handle and less likely to intimidate them. If you’re going tuna fishing, it’s a good way to scare the heck out of your kids.
Number two is the time you’ll be out. For kids, an all-day fishing trip can be a little too much. For your first few times out, plan on only a couple of hours. That way, you don’t overdo it and your kids will be excited to do it again.
Tip 4: Pack Well
When you’ve warmed your kids up to the idea and have a safe spot picked out, it’s time to get ready. When kids are along, you’ll want to pack more than you otherwise would. A couple of things include:
- First aid kit
- Dramamine (if you’re going on a boat)
- Plenty of snacks and food
- Hats to keep the sun at bay
- Plenty of extra lures and line
- Extra clothes in case the kids get wet or muddy (they will)
Tip 5: Follow The Laws
It’s important to start on the right foot when it comes to fishing with kids. Make sure anyone who will be casting a line has the proper license. Some states don’t require kids under a certain age to obtain a fishing license, but every place is different.
Even if your kid doesn’t need one, there may be catch and size limits to follow. You can find all the relevant information online. For license information, visit the Fish and Wildlife Service Website.
Tip 6: Share Your Knowledge
Now comes the fun part! Fishing and sharing your knowledge. After all, fishing isn’t just about picking a lure and casting it in the water. There’s a lot of skill involved and plenty of technique. Share your excitement and knowledge with your kids.
If you’re on a river or a stream, talk about how to cast to a spot ahead of where you think the fish are. You want the moving water to carry the lure to where the fish likely are. If you’re on a lake, you can extoll the benefits of using different types of bait. For saltwater fishing, you have plenty of different fish, bait, and lures you can talk about.
All those little things you’ve learned over the years, you can pass on to your kids. But, remember that they’re going to have to learn some lessons on their own, which brings me to my next and final tip.
Tip 7: Be Patient
Sometimes we forget what it was like to be a kid. Mentally prepare yourself for any fishing trip with kids by assuming that you’ll be helping your kids more than fishing yourself. To develop a strong bond and a fishing partner for life, be patient and understanding. Fishing can be frustrating for kids. Heck, it can even be frustrating for adults.
Take into account that, unless your kid is a natural, it will be a while before he or she gets the hang of it. But, when the day comes that you can both walk away from the water having caught some fish and spent some quality time together, it will all be worth it.