Fishing is a fantastic activity that will take your kids outside and interact with the environment. With a little preparation and patience, your kids will be able to catch their first fish in no time. Making memories on the water is very rewarding, and we have a few ways to make it super easy. Here are my top tips for successfully fishing with kids.
1. Plan your trip with children in mind
As a parent or caregiver, you know that lots of unexpected events can put the damper on a fun journey. Make your first fishing trip easy by finding a spot near your home with access to the bathroom and enough space for children to cast. Public moorings and longer beach access are ideal. To find a fishing spot near you, check out the Places to Boat & Fish Map and Top Mom Mom Approved Places to Fish and Boat in the US.
2. Always bring life jackets
Everyone should wear a life jacket when learning to fish, including you! Even when fishing from the bank, wearing a life jacket develops safety habits. Also bring hats, a pocket-sized first aid kit, and enough water and snacks for a great day.
3. Aim Easy Fish
Don’t go for trophy-sized wild fish when fishing with children. These species require more skill and patience than children are comfortable with. You should focus on feeding the most populous and active species. Panfish and trout are a good place to start. They are right next to the dock or the weed beds next to the shore. Attach a simple hook, circuit board, and bobber. You can find this device in the Tailored Tackle Basic Fishing Kit. We recommend baiting a pinch of night crawler or a small bread ball.
4. Fishing is not boring
While not catching fish can be daunting, especially for a young angler, there are many ways to “fish” and have fun without “catching”. When they’re tired of watering, encourage them to poke around the riverside. You can search for critters, collect stones and get dirty. Playing with worms, launching leaf boats into the water, or even just taking a break and strolling can help younger anglers get involved. And don’t make your first outing an all-day affair. Depending on the age of the child, an hour or two of casting is probably just enough to make them want more!
5. Teach them to be gentle
For children under 12, you should be the only one to release fish. Show them how to remove the hook, submerge the fish in water, and revive it by working on the fish’s tail. Children over the age of 12 have hands big enough to release fish on their own. However, emphasize the gentle release by dipping the fish. Children can panic the first time they hold a fish (it’s slimy! It moved!). So make sure your larger adult hands are around the child’s to ensure the fish is not accidentally tossed or dropped.
6. Selfless patience creates new anglers
Focus on giving your child an amazing fishing experience. Your goal is to create a new angler who can enjoy the water with you for the rest of his life. Fishing can be frustrating and feel slow if the fish aren’t biting. It’s your job to make it easier and more exciting. While it can take a bit of work to begin with, the reward is a new fishing partner. If their rod becomes tangled, give them yours so they can continue fishing while you fix it. When the bite slows down, go on adventures along the coast or play in the water. You want them to combine fishing with fun. If you interest them in the sport, they will develop and learn to appreciate it as they grow.
7. Follow the rules
Make sure you know your state’s regulations before your family goes fishing. The good news is that Take Me Fishing has an amazing licensing and registration tool that makes it easy to get a license and follow the rules.