tips for fishing with kids
I grew up in a family of fishermen in the Pacific Northwest. From fishing the ocean for salmon, lingcod, cabezon and bottom fish, to the rivers for salmon, trout and steelhead, to ponds and lakes for trout, bluegill, bass and catfish, there was nothing that we as a family could not catch. It was something I took for granted as a kid.
Now that I have a family of my own, I want to give them the same outdoor opportunities I had. Fishing with kids can be an amazing adventure for you and them. I was never given an instruction manual describing how to teach little ones how to fish, and I know learning how to fish for an adult can be challenging. However, I have learned teaching kids to fish is a much bigger challenge than I expected.
That said, with the challenges comes great reward. From the bonds built between family members, the memories made, the sights seen, and the new skills learned, it is an adventure which will never be forgotten by any of us.
Learning how to fish with kids is something we only get so much time and so many opportunities to do, as they grow so quickly. So it is up to us as adults to make the most of each experience and make sure each experience is the most positive we can make it.
Based on my own experiences and things I have learned along the way, let me share some things I believe may help you and your little ones make some great outdoor fishing memories:
- Be patient. When fishing with young kids you have to consider that they are more sensitive to sights, sounds, feelings and emotions. They do not have the attention span some of us adults have and lose interest in things very quickly. There are pros and cons to fishing on boats and shore. Will you be targeting a fish species they can catch? Remember, you may only have a few fishing trips to make a positive impression on a young mind before they have lost interest. Be patient. Let’s read that one more time. Be patient. Easier said than done, but so important.
- Keep them engaged. You must prepare yourself and them for the down times. You must prepare a backpack of toys, games, and snacks. You must be prepared to be a kid yourself when you are fishing. Would you want to play with worms, crickets, rocks and sticks? How would you play? I myself am always looking for a good eye spy game, or a way to stack rocks into castles and homes. Most importantly, remember that your child(red) will most likely want to play with you. So cast those lines and then take a few minutes at a time to play with your child in between checking your poles.
- Take the time to teach them to fish. While you are fishing with your kids, are you going to teach them to fish? Do they have a rod and reel? Tackle box? Tackle gear? How are you going to teach them to fish? I have purchased multiple cheap rods and reels for my kids to allow them to practice casting. That way, they can cast as many times as they want and even break a rods and reel and I don’t get upset. Also, while they do this, i have time to set up my poles.
- Plan ahead. You should know where you are going and how it will influence the child before you get there. Think about the time of day you will be fishing – will you need a jacket or sunscreen and hats? Or both? Think about the target fish species – will the spot you choose be productive for a new fishing buddy? Will there be bathrooms or facilities? Are there any emergency services nearby? And should you be carrying anything specific in your first aid kit, in case of an emergency?
- Take a minute. Why do you want to take a child fishing? You probably want to share your experiences with him our her. You may see this as a way to get away from the daily routine and bond with your child. This can be a great way to get your child outside, away from electronics and video games, dirty, and in the best way allow them to be a kid. And like most of us, we probably were taught to fish by our family members and in our own way, want to pass on to them what was past on to us. But remember, this is about your child and not about your own fishing experience. Don’t push it, don’t get frustrated and enjoy every moment with your little one.
This list is by no means everything that can be considered when trying to learn how to fish with kids, and is only a starting point.
And not every fishing trip will turn out as you planned or hoped.
The whole fishing experience for us adults is more than just catching. It is listening to the water, seeing the mountains, the birds, the fish jumping or swimming, the anticipation of the line moving, getting away from stress, and either generally enjoying the good company of those around you and the conversations had, or lack there of and taking in the peace and quiet. And for others it is our competitive sport of choice.
For kids it’s all about being with you… with the occasional excitement of a fish on the end of the line.
The most important thing to remember with kids is to have fun, take lots of pictures, and show them how much value there is in it, and what the experience can be. Lower your expectations, be patient, and make it easy on yourself and your child. On top of this, each fish caught by your child is probably their personal best.
Reinforce what an awesome job they’ve done and by doing so, and as long as the whole experience has been a positive one, you will have created memories which will be cherished for a lifetime.