Tips for Fishing with Kids
It seems kids today are not interested in doing the same things we used to do thirty years ago. When I, Matthew Davies, was a kid, I could be found anywhere except inside my house. I would ride bikes or skateboards with my friends, participate in sports, or hang out with my dad fishing. Nowadays, it appears that kids are content sitting in front of the television or playing games on their computers. I think it is time we try to start getting kids involved with nature again. For this, I suggest trying to take them fishing.
Fishing is an excellent activity that can get your children out of the house and away from their electronics, if even for only the afternoon. Fishing does not require a lot of preparation. All you need to do is get the necessary permits, some tackle, and a couple of rods. Fishing will give you the opportunity to bond with your children in a very rewarding way. Make your first fishing trip memorable, and you will have them hooked for life (pun intended). Below you will find my suggestions for planning a successful fishing outing with your kids.
Plan Your Trip with Kids in Mind
Fishing has a lot more variables in play than your typical outing. As a parent or guardian, I’m sure you’ve experienced your share of unexpected events that tend to happen on even the simplest of trips. When scouting a location, make sure that the spot you pick has bathrooms and plenty of room for the youngsters to cast. Their technique may not be as refined as yours and this eliminates the odds of your son or daughter getting their hook caught on a nearby tree or bush. Moreover, it would put a real damper on the day if you had to cut your outing short for a trip to the hospital because your youngster snagged another person with their hook. Fortunately, fishing spots can be quite easy to find nowadays. Simply open up your favorite internet browser and type in “fishing locations near me.” You’re likely to find reviews from past visitors who can tell you how kid-friendly the location is.
No matter if you are on land or on a boat, make sure to have your kids wear lifejackets. It will be up to you to determine what age is safe for them to stop wearing a life preserver. A good rule of thumb is if they can swim well, and the water is not past their waist, then they should be relatively safe. Of course, that rule only applies to fishing on land. When fishing from a boat, everyone should wear lifejackets. If something should happen to your boat, you never know just how far you are going to have to swim before you get help. In both instances, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Initially, you are going to want to target fish that are plentiful and easy to catch. There is no sense in going for trophy fish when you are with your kids. Catching these fish requires a lot more knowledge, training, and fancy equipment. I suggest you stick to looking for areas that are abundant in panfish and trout. Most of the time, you can find these fish right next to the dock, in weed beds, or along the shoreline. Rig up with a hook, bobber, and bait. If your child is struggling to get a good long cast, you can cast the line for them. As for bait, I suggest nightcrawlers or a small ball of cheese or bread. Don’t make things too complicated on your first few trips.
Spruce It Up
Young anglers get tired of not catching anything relatively quickly. Make sure the spot you have selected has a few other things they can do. Anything from a playground within the line of sight to launching leaf boats into the water can provide entertainment when the fish aren’t biting. When you take your kids on their first fishing outing, don’t make it an all-day affair. Children tend to get bored after just a few hours of fishing. Limit your time, and they will be excited about your next trip. If you stay too long, then they may not be interested in joining you next time.
This first fishing outing is a learning experience for your children and should be treated as such. Therefore, don’t do everything for them. While kids under the age of 12 might need assistance with baiting hooks and releasing fish, kids over 12 should be taught to take care of these things by themselves. When it comes to releasing fish, make sure that you are the only one releasing fish for the under-12 lot. They don’t have the grip or strength to release a fish properly. With the tweens, make sure that you show them the proper way to remove a hook and release any fish they are not going to keep for later. When deciding which fish to keep, it helps to set some expectations. I suggest you explain to the kids in advance how you determine which fish you will keep and which fish you will release. This can be based on size, species, or some other attribute. Some localities have rules stating that fish of certain species can only be kept when they reach a certain length. These rules ensure the continuance of the species and should be followed. Which leads me to my next point…
Follow the Rules
When you go fishing with your kids, make sure that you have the proper permits and are fishing in appropriate areas. Some states allow for a single license for a family, and others require a permit for each pole in the water, regardless of age. It is better to take the time to know the rule than have to worry about a ticket from the game warden.
Of all the memories that I, Matthew Davies, have of my childhood, fishing with my dad is among the best. We need to teach our kids that time spent outside is time well spent. I hope you have found this article helpful and wish you lots of luck on your next fishing expedition.