When it comes to fishing, both of my youngsters were present on numerous family fishing excursions before they were even old enough to hold a rod. It’s an activity that my wife and I avidly enjoy and equally embrace as a perfect opportunity to spend quality time together as a family. Both of our kids have now become avid anglers and “fishing” is usually the first answer they blurt out when asked, “What do you want to do this weekend?” They simply can’t get enough!
Now I'm certainly no expert on the matter, but when you spend several hours fishing with your kids you learn a thing or two on how to best entertain their needs and excite their interests.
Here are a few tips that I have found extremely helpful.
1. Keep them involved
Whether it’s getting the boat ready, filling the cooler, picking out the right lures or even baiting the hook, kids love to be a part of the plan. Give them an opportunity to have an active role in preparing for the “big day” and allow them to build up some excitement.
2. Simple is best
Start off with basic fishing equipment that they can use on their own and easily become familiar with a short, ultra-light rod with a closed face reel and a push button release is an excellent choice for young anglers. Starting them off with a jig or a bobber and hook are good tackle options. Jigging up and down is a simple motion that even the littlest of anglers can do and a bobber and hook is great for kids that like a visual reference or are a little more proficient with casting.
3. Action is the key
Kids love and need action. Whenever possible, fish for what’s biting the best. It may be Trout from a local pond, Perch through the ice or Catfish from the river bank. Whatever the choice, give them a fishing experience that will inspire an interest, create a vivid memory and keep them engaged.
4. Bring snacks, books and toys
Attention spans and interest levels will always vary, but in general, children will tend to lose interest fairly quickly. Bringing along an ample supply of their favorite snacks, books or toys will always be a welcomed alternative to restlessness and boredom. Keeping them occupied during slow fishing times is never a bad idea, and most often than not, they will usually find a refreshed interest in the fishing action.
5. Keep them safe and comfortable
Keeping your children safe from the elements and any possible dangers should always be the first priority. Proper clothing, fitted lifejackets, polarized glasses, insect repellant, sunscreen and a first aid kit are all “must have” items on any fishing trip. Being proactive and prepared for possible conditions is essential in keeping everyone safe, comfortable and relaxed, but also to ensure of a positive experience.
6. Make it a learning experience
They are never too young to learn. Teaching them about having an appreciation for nature and the outdoors, simple values and ethics of fishing, and how to clean and cook a fish are all valuable learning experiences. A hands on introduction to fish, minnows and various other creatures that inhabit the water is an intriguing adventure and the ultimate outdoor classroom.
7. Most importantly, have fun
Turn your fishing trip into a fun and memorable family adventure. It doesn’t always just have to be about the fishing. Show them how much fun you can have even if you don’t catch fish. Remember to be patient, coach them with encouragement and always give plenty of praise when your little anglers do well or give it their best shot.