So, you want to take your kids fishing? This can be a great outdoor experience for parents (or grandparents, or aunts, or uncles…) and children to share! A little forethought and planning will help you to make the most of your fishing trip with children.
There are many things to consider when you are setting about taking your children fishing with you. Here, we will delve into all of the ins and outs of taking your kids fishing.
What’s the Best Age to Introduce Kids to Fishing?
Some people will tell you that any age is a good time to introduce fishing to your kids. However, you don’t want to try to introduce your kids to fishing when then are too young, as they won’t have the patience to sit still, quietly, waiting for a fish to bite their hook.
As a result, they will have a negative connotation associated with fishing, and it might be even harder to try to build a love of fishing when they are older.
For this reason, experts say that the best age to introduce kids to fishing is between five and six years old. Most kids of this age will have a longer attention span and will enjoy fishing with you (and will cherish spending this quality time with you more than older adolescents and teenagers would!)
What’s the Best Way to Introduce Kids to Fishing?
Your kids might be really excited about going fishing with you, especially if they think they are going to catch a bunch of fish. Experienced fisherpersons, however, know that this goal is not always guaranteed.
You should take your kids fishing for the first time to a well-stocked lake. If kids see fish are biting fairly often, their attention will remain on the task at hand.
How Should I Prepare to Take My Kids Fishing?
Check the rules and regulations for the area in which you want to take your kids fishing. If you need a fishing license, make sure to get one. If your kids need fishing licenses, get them as well.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provides a handy search engine in which you can select your state, read its fishing licensure regulations, and purchase its fishing license online if one is needed.
Show Kids That You Have Fun Fishing by Yourself
If your kids have seen you go fishing often, by yourself, they will feel much more comfortable about embarking upon a fishing trip with you. In fact, you should go fishing alone to the spot that you intend to take your children fishing, just to check it out and make sure it’s an appropriate fishing hole. Make sure that you are comfortable with the spot, boat (if you are using one), and types of fish present.
If you are using a boat captain, talk to them about your plans to bring your kids fishing with you next time. Ask their opinion on bringing your kids fishing, what fish they should target first, and what they should bring with them. If you are fishing from land, talk to fishers around you who can help you to choose the proper spot, bait and target fish for when you bring your kids next time.
Whatever you do, be sure to rave about your solo fishing trip when you get home, letting your kids know how much fun you had. This will entice them to want to go fishing with you next time.
Talk to Kids About Fishing
Before taking your kids on a fishing trip, talk to them about fishing and try to get them interested in and excited about your upcoming trip together. You might want to watch some television shows about fishing and talk about what bait or lures are being used, what types of fish the people in the show are trying to catch, and explain the basic concepts of fishing to them. If you can’t find fishing shows on television, you can search online for videos about fishing and watch them together.
What Time, Day, Season, etc. Should I Take My Kids Fishing?
Fishing with kids takes much more forethought than fishing by yourself or with other adults. You should consider the best time of day for your kids and take them then. Ideally, dawn and dusk are the best times of day for freshwater fishing, as these are the fishes’ most active feeding periods (and these times of day are cooler than fishing under the heat of the midday sun).
Keep an eye on the weather as well. Sometimes fish can be more active right before a front passes through, but you don’t want to chance getting stuck outside in a storm with your kids, either.
Finally, if there is a certain type of fish you are targeting, consider its spawning cycles. Each species of fish spawns at a certain time of the year. You can look this information up on the internet.
What Should I Bring When Taking My Kids Fishing?
Snacks and Drinks
Remember, whenever you are taking kids somewhere with you, always bring adequate snacks and drinks! Bottles of water, goldfish crackers, fruit, and cut-up veggies are all great choices for kids who are fishing.
Try to avoid anything with wrappers that can be noisy to unwrap when you’re quietly trying to catch a fish. Also bring a trash bag with you to keep all of the waste in and take it with you when you leave. Teach your kids to be good stewards of nature and leave no traces behind when you leave.
Make sure to coat your kids (and yourself) with a good sunscreen, 50 SPF or higher. Bring it with you so that you can reapply it as needed, when kids sweat or get wet.
You should also spray your kids (and yourself) with DEET-free bug spray so that they aren’t eaten up by insects while fishing with you. Avon’s Skin So Soft is a great alternative to traditional, stinky bug sprays and it works just as well.
Bring a change of clothes for each child, in case they fall into the water or get muddy. You should also bring layers that kids can put on or take off in case the weather changes. Hats and sunglasses can also be beneficial in keeping the sun off of kids.
First Aid Kit
Make sure to pack a small first aid kit to take with you when you go fishing with kids. You will want to have Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, Dramamine, and Neosporin handy for little injuries and mishaps.
- Rod and reel: You will want to make sure you have the proper sized fishing rod and reel for your child. Youth models, such as these, can be bought for around $15.
- Fishing line: Make sure that you bring the right fishing line to match to the weight of the rod and reel as well as to the end-tackle used.
- Hooks: You also want to bring along the proper hooks that match to the fish you are targeting based upon its mouth size.
- Bait: This can be alive, dead or man-made. Crickets, worms, small fish, chicken livers, cheese, bread…all of these have been successfully used as bait.
- Lures: If you have an assortment of lures, kids will maintain their interest in and keep their attention on fishing. They will enjoy throwing the lure out into the water, seeing it hit the water, and then seeing it come back to them, wiggling, possibly with a fish chasing it.
- Floats: Bobbers and floats are usually used with bait, not lures. These floats should be big enough to help the bait suspend without going more than halfway under water.
- Sinkers: If you are using a sinker, make sure to choose the right ones for the type of water in which you are fishing.
How Long Should My Fishing Trip with Kids Last?
The first time you take your kids fishing, make the trip shorter than the amount of time you would usually spend fishing by yourself or with other adults. Keeping your kids comfortable and not tired increases the likelihood that they will want to fish with you again and again.
Fishing trips with kids should last no longer than a half day (four to six hours’ maximum). Kids will ultimately get bored if they feel that they are being forced to fish for longer than that.
What Should I Remember When Fishing with Kids?
There are a few things to keep in mind when you take kids fishing:
Above all else, be very, very patient. Remember, your goal is to have a great, memorable time fishing with your kids. This goal is even greater than the goal of catching a fish.
First-time fisherpersons might get easily upset when their fishing line tangles or snags, when they lose fish, or when they simply cannot catch a fish. Realize that these mishaps will occur, and be patient with your kids. Model that patience for your kids, too, and remember that learning to fish can be a teaching moment in patience for them as well.
Don’t negatively criticize
Don’t raise your voice when telling your child to do or not do something on your fishing trip. Try to cover the basics, but don’t be negative (instead of saying, “no, that’s not how you do it,” try saying, “that is one way you can do it, but let me show you another way”).
Don’t get into fancy fishing techniques
Most experts say to avoid fly fishing with kids, as this type of fishing can be much more difficult to grasp. When starting out, it’s best to fish with kids from shore. This way, they can practice reeling in smaller fish before graduating to fishing from a boat for larger fish in subsequent fishing trips.
Don’t make kids handle “yucky” stuff
Some kids will want to handle bait and fish, while others will not. Go with what your kid wants to do. Don’t make them handle something they think is “yucky” on the first fishing trip with you, or they might not want to go again. They can learn the yucky stuff later.
Model fishing ethics to your kids
In addition to leaving no traces when you leave (collecting all of your trash and taking it with you), teach your kids good fishing ethics. These include throwing back smaller fish (or any fish, if the pond at which you are fishing is catch-and-release).
Make sure that your kids are learning respect for fellow creatures. Learning these important lessons now will stick with them into adulthood and shape the person they will become.
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