In this day and age it is hard to tear a kid away from their electronics. Between cell phones, televisions, and game systems the kids have it made inside. It takes something really enticing to get them outside to enjoy the fresh air. If you are like me, an avid angler, then you want your child to know the thrill of the catch. When introducing your child to fishing the right way you are creating a fishing buddy for life. By teaching them correctly, you will also be showing them how much fun fishing can be. With the following fishing tips for kids you’ll soon be fishing alongside your happy child enjoying the day!
As a parent, you already know that safety is imperative when raising children. Being safe is the most important fishing tip for kids. Lead by example, your kids will follow your guidance. First, ensure that you are all wearing properly fitting life jackets. Have your child get used to wearing it before the fishing trip. This allows time for adjusting the fit so it is not uncomfortable while fishing.
Another product you need to have on hand is bug spray. There is nothing more distracting than itchy bug bites. Also, remember the sunscreen! Nothing puts a damper on a day like a bad sunburn. Choose a minimum of 50 SPF labeled “broad spectrum” which protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Neutrogena Kids Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ UVA/UVB Protection is fantastic.
There is nothing worse than being empty-handed when your child announces that he/she is hungry. So, one of the most important fishing tips is to pack plenty of water and snacks. You need to be prepared for those hunger attacks! Water is essential while out in the sun so be sure to stock up!
When we take our daughter fishing, we let her pack the snacks and drinks herself. She has fun checking the items off the list and isn’t disappointed when we pull out food she does not want. It also gets her involved and excited for the day ahead.
Find An Ideal Location To Get Kids Interested In Fishing
It is important that you remember you are not searching for a fishing spot for yourself. Find a spot that your child will enjoy preferably one that has access to restrooms and perhaps walking trails. The spot should be a small pond or stream where you know there will be plenty of fish that are easy to catch. You want to keep your child’s attention so choose a spot that you are already familiar with. If you are uncertain where to go, take a trip to your local tackle shop. Teach your child how to ask where some good fishing spots are, what you can expect to catch and the best bait to use.
When we took our child fishing for the first time we went to a local river where we knew the fish were biting. Since we already knew about the location, we knew the best spot to go, we knew what was needed to catch the fish and it was relaxing. There were no surprises, no long searches for a spot, and no long waits for a bite on the line.
Fishing Tips For Kids: Casting
Teach your child the safest way to cast. For kids, the best casting method is the sidearm. Always teach them to look over their shoulder before casting to ensure there is no one or nothing in the way. As far as techniques, bring the rod back while keeping it above the waist line then swing it forward flicking the wrist while releasing the line. Once your cast is finished, your rod should be pointed in the same direction as your target. Depending on your child, you might want to cast their line out for the first few times for them. Remember, this is all about having fun. While you want to teach them proper techniques you also do not want this to be stressful for them.
Keep It Short
For most kids, you will want to keep the trip to about an hour or two however, it will depend on the child. After that, they may get antsy. Do not plan on a full day of fishing. You do not want them to associate fishing with a long boring day. Keep in mind their attention span and go from there. Now, if your child is having fun and showing no signs of being bored then keep fishing! It is important to pay attention to the signals your child gives you. Remember, you want fishing to be fun.
During their first fishing experience they will probably start to get bored after a bit. This is okay. Have something besides fishing planned even if it is just playing in the water. Take a walk if there are trails nearby and let your kid search for frogs or chase butterflies. Do not insist they stand there with a rod in their hand the entire time. This makes the experience less than fun for kids. If your child remembers the day fondly then it will be easier to plan another fishing trip in the near future.
Tip: Taking Multiple Kids Fishing
If you have more than one child you want to introduce to fishing, it might be best to take them one at a time. Children are all different and it might be exhausting to have one child fidgeting and wandering off while the other child is focused and clutching the rod. It is also not fair to force one child to leave because the other one is antsy. Take one child at a time and gauge their interest. If their attention spans are different then plan separate trips for the time being or bring other activities that one can do while the other fishes.
Start Small to Get Kids Interested In Fishing
As anglers, we want to catch those large trophy fish. But, when we are trying to teach children and get them interested smaller is better. Small fish allows your child to learn how to properly reel in a catch. Catching large intimidating fish will only scare your child. In the beginning, shoot for panfish or something similar in size. After your child is comfortable then gradually move up to larger catches. Remember, this is new for your child so any catch is exciting for them. You want to give them a good chance to do just that! Give them a day they will fondly remember. And, expect to lose lures, get tangled lines and lose fish. It is all part of the adventure.
Don’t Force Them
The easiest way to turn a kid off fishing is forcing them to do uncomfortable things. If they don’t want to bait a hook then do it for them. The first trip is about enjoyment and comfort. If your child doesn’t want to handle the fish then show them the proper way yourself. Along the same lines, do not spend the entire time lecturing them about the proper way to fish. You will want to give them the basic pointers and then back off. Let them try it on their own and if their casting is a bit off it’s okay. Your child will learn the proper techniques in time. If you are constantly correcting everything they do it ends up a frustrating experience for both you and your child.
Let Them Experience It
If you get a bite while your child is doing something else, or even if he/she is fishing next to you, call the child over and have him/her reel it in. This gives them the experience and is very exciting when they reel in their first fish! It is while your child is in the middle of this excitement that you can give pointers on how to reel it in and what to do. That euphoria of catching a fish will bring your kid back to the sport, just as it did you! Fishing Tips for Kids: A sudden jerk of the line might cause your child to let go of the rod. So, you may want to attach the rod to your boat or dock with some rope so you do not lose your rod in the water.
Start Traditions To Get Kids More Interested In Fishing
Fishing tips for kids includes starting new traditions. On the way home after fishing we stopped for ice cream. To avoid distraction we told her after we finished fishing. But, she knew the next time we went fishing that we would be stopping for ice cream again after our fishing excursion. It is a great end to the day and something she looks forward to and remembers.
Have The Right Equipment
Make sure that you have the proper rod and reel for your child. There are plenty of options out there for kids. We like the ODDSPRO Kids Fishing Pole Telescopic Rod Reel Combo (pictured above). Avoid giving them something that is too large that they will have trouble handling. Kids like the sets with fun colors and characters. Get a spinning or spin cast combo between 3 and 5 feet long. Spool with a 6 lb monofilament line and use a bait and bobber combination which is easy for kids to use and handle. Soft baits are a good choice because they are durable and won’t spoil. They are ideal for teaching.
Watch Your Actions And Reactions
Our children learn from us. If your child sees you making a face when you bait a worm then so will your kid. Stay positive and don’t let them associate that with something icky and resist learning how to do it themselves. Be sure you follow all your local regulations. Explain fishing regulations and local laws to your child so they become familiar with them. Also, make sure to explain the reasons why they are in place. The last thing you want to do is to break a rule with your child watching. That is a sure way to teach your child to do the same.
There is nothing more rewarding than teaching kids the joy of fishing. However, remember it takes planning, patience and understanding. Your child will need time to grow as fond of fishing as you are. Remember our fishing tips for kids when you plan your next outing. Teach your kids this exciting and rewarding sport and you will have a great fishing buddy for years to come!
To teach your kids about the varieties of freshwater fish in the United States make sure to read our article Fishing for Freshwater Game Fish In The United States.