Fishing with children can be one of the most rewarding experiences that an adult can enjoy, it can also be one of the biggest challenges that an adult can experience. When taking children fishing there are some important steps to remember and some important things to understand.
First of all most children will simply be excited to get outdoors and may be a lot less concerned with catching a fish than simply having a fun time. As parents we may sometimes lose sight of this simple truth and instead become fixated on the absolute need to catch a fish at all costs.
The picture of a father standing out in a torrential downpour with howling winds and crashing thunder next to a crying child comes to mind, therefore step one is to make reasonable goals for your first child-based fishing excursions. Explain to the child or children what the expected outcomes are and take the opportunity to talk about enjoying the outdoors as much as the actual act of fishing.
How to Enjoy Safe Fishing With Children
Children should always wear their life jackets while on a boat. Consider having them wear a life jacket while on a dock fishing, too. When a child hooks a fish, they get excited and it’s easy for them to slip into the water. If you are boating with a child, explain to him/her rules of boating and how to show courtesy to others on the water.
Most of all remember that you are fishing with children. It’s much different than fishing with adults of any experience level. Kids have a much shorter attention span and can get bored easily when they aren’t catching fish. Remember to have fun. Kids will make mistakes, especially as they learn to cast. Make sure to give them plenty of room so everyone stays safe.
By teaching a child to fish, adults can help them learn about safety on the water, helping to preserve the environment, and can build bonds that will last a lifetime. These tips will help adults and kids have a great time fishing together.
Introducing a Child to the Outdoor Sport of Fishing
The outdoor sports rely heavily on one generation instilling the love of the sport into the next generation. This means that one generation has to take the time and effort to take a child fishing with them, if they are going to have the desire to go fishing! For kids to enjoy the sport of fishing, adults must do all they can to make their opportunities exciting. Here are just a few tips to help you introduce the sport of fishing to a child.
Refreshments and Free Time
Kids love to learn new things and go on adventures. Fishing can provide both of these things, as well as a chance to bond with a parent or other adult. It’s important to keep the first trips fun and shorter than a typical trip with other adults. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your first fishing trip with a junior angler: Have some snacks or sandwiches available for the kids. Water is best as a beverage as caffeinated drinks can have a dehydrating effect. Finger foods that are easy for kids to grab and eat on the run are the best bet.
If the fishing is slow, allow the child to reel in his/her line for a while and relax on the boat or run around and play on the shore. Kids like to be active and they need something to hold their attention. Making sure they have an outlet for their energy will help them enjoy the entire experience more.
Look for high success rates.
Let’s face it: kids want to see something happening. They are not going to be satisfied fishing for something that will take them 100 or more casts to catch. They need a fish that they can catch in the first few casts. For that reason, bluegill or similar pan fish are the perfect choice. These fish bite readily, and are easily found. It is hard to beat a summer afternoon of catching a bunch of fish on crickets, worms, or even top water poppers. Try a local farm pond for high success rates. Chances are, once you catch the first couple of fish, your child will be hooked for life!
Make them comfortable.
Kids don’t want to be miserable, so make sure to go the extra mile to make them comfortable. Don’t plan on taking them out on a small boat for hours on end, where it will be difficult to stretch legs, and take restroom breaks. Plan on fishing from the bank, or from a pier, so that they will have plenty of room to move around. Provide a comfortable seat so that they can sit if they want to. If they get bored with the fishing, they may want to sit and do something else, or maybe just watch you fish for a bit.
Teach them to handle the fish.
Some fish can be very intimidating. Catfish, for example, can be dangerous if not handled correctly, but there is no reason to instill fear of these fish in a kid. They will have a lot more fun if you teach them all about the sport, which means that you will have to show them how to handle fish to remove them from the hook.
Bait and Tackle
Live bait is best. Don’t go for the biggest night crawlers you can find, though. Smaller worms will do the job when fishing with kids. Show children how to bait their own hook and encourage, but don’t force, them to do so. They’ll be doing on their own all in good time.
Closed bail reels or spinning reels are enough for a child who is learning. Selecting a light or ultra-light action rod in the 4-5 foot range, rather than a small kids’ rod, will make casting easier. A 6-pound test line should work well for the small fish kids will be catching. Smaller hooks will help hook more fish as they offer a more subtle presentation.
Kids are more interested in the number of fish they catch than the size. Catching more fish will help them stay interested and make their time on the water more enjoyable. Bobber fishing is ideal for kids. The visual of the bobber moving will help them relate the feel of a fish biting to a visual cue. Consider purchasing a small, inexpensive tackle box for each child. This will give them their own place specifically for them to keep their “gear”.
Help, but don’t do it all.
You will have to teach a child how to do a lot during this phase of their fishing life. They will not know how to bait hooks, or release fish, or put them on a stringer if some are to be kept. Patiently teach all of these things, but then provide opportunities for the child to practice what they learn. Part of the fun of the sport is to have the “hands on” experience. Most kids will love having that fish smell on their own hands!
Any time a child is near water, they should have a life jacket on. Get a life jacket that fits, so that the child will be comfortable, but enforce the rule of wearing it. There is no reason to risk a dangerous accident when preventing it is so easy.
Keep a few.
Catch and release fishing is great for the preservation of fish, but kids want the experience of keeping a few fish to take home and eat. They will gain a certain satisfaction by knowing that they are getting to eat something that they provided through their fishing exploits. Keep at least enough for a good meal. After all, you aren’t going to harm the bluegill population!
Fishing can be a sport that a child will continue for the rest of his or her life. It can be very inexpensive to participate in, and it can be done just about anywhere in the world. So, do your child a favor, and take him or her fishing!
Practice makes Perfect
It is also important to understand and recognize that children are still developing their fine motor skills and the act of fishing usually involves the use of at least some fine motor skills, so practice is imperative. The act of practicing for an upcoming fishing trip can also be made fun. Back yard casting sessions and knot tying lessons are just a couple of ways that an adult can help prepare a young fishing enthusiast before the actual big trip.
Make it a Safe Trip
In addition to practice and skills preparation, safety is also of major importance. No act or event will sour a young fisherman faster than a near death experience such as falling in the river or getting hooked with a barbed hook. Regardless of the type of fishing make sure that the child or children have the proper equipment for the occasion including a properly sized life jacket, sun glasses, rain jacket, or other essential items.
Additionally, if your fishing adventures often take you into remote areas or miles off shore make sure that you are watching the weather forecast and avoid taking the kids out on a day when the forecast looks more like a hurricane warning than a sunny picnic day.
Get out there and Fish
Finally the number one rule with teaching anyone to do something as fun and exciting as fishing is to remember the golden rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. Children are especially sensitive to angry words and grumpy adults who have lost sight of the simple joys of being outdoors and fishing with a friend.