Teaching a New Angler: Top Tips for Fishing with Kids
Think back to your very first fishing trip. Perhaps a parent or grandparent took you out on the boat to teach you how to cast your fishing pole and lure in your prey. Today, you probably remember that trip as a moment of fun and closeness with family members.
If you now have children or grandchildren of your own, you might excitedly plan a fishing trip once each child is old enough to hold a pole. You can’t wait to share this beloved pastime with the next generation.
However, experienced anglers often forget that fishing with kids is an entirely different experience. It requires patience, persistence, and a bit of showmanship.
Plan and Prepare
Now’s not the time to go after big fish. Take the kids to a fishing hole that offers the best prospects for catching small or medium-sized fish. Remember—if a child doesn’t catch a fish on his or her first trip, he or she is less likely to want to try again.
To be safe, however, talk about all the other enjoyments on the water just in case the fish aren’t biting.
Pack Snacks and Beverages
Is it ever fun to spend time with a hungry or thirsty child? There’s no faster way to ruin a fishing trip than realizing you forgot the snacks and drinks.
Bring healthy, portable snacks—maybe throw in an extra treat to make the trip special.
Most kids are used to getting up early for school. A special trip may encourage them to wake up earlier than otherwise. It’s easier to have fun in the brisk morning air than it is in the sweltering, afternoon sun. Also, set a time limit—this is not the time to set up an all-day fishing trip.
Pack the Right Gear
A full-sized fishing pole can overwhelm an eight-year-old. Bring along kid-sized gear for a better experience. Make the trip even more special by using fishing supplies owned by a parent or older sibling. You can also bring along the gear you used when you were a child.
Teach and Entertain
If you want to teach a child to cast, show him or her what motions to use and offer simple, step-by-step instructions. Then, demonstrate the action again. Use this method with every fishing skill you teach.
Give each child a specific responsibility. Children are more likely to get excited if they feel you trust them with something important. You can choose simple assignments such as checking if everyone has their life jackets on and ready.
More often than not, your young anglers will struggle with basic fishing skills. Exercise patience and calmly help each child improve. Remember, children will quickly pick up on any signs of frustration.
Despite your efforts, you can’t guarantee every child will catch a fish. Instead, manage your expectations and make the trip about more than just catching fish. Great memories are just as important.
Fishing comes with several safety risks. Come prepared with basic first aid supplies as well as safety equipment such as life jackets, flares and life preservers.
It also pays to bring along sunscreen, insect repellent, treatment for insect bites, ponchos and any necessary medication.
Teach children about safety concerns that come along with fishing. For example, they should announce whenever they walk behind someone—you wouldn’t want any unfortunate casting accidents.
Remind them to always wear life jackets and to not rock the boat. Teach your kids to drink water to avoid dehydration and to always announce when they intend to cast.
Make sure the kids wear proper gear—sandals and swim suits may not be adequate fishing attire when children are learning to cast.
Watch the Weather
Check the weather report before you leave. Rain can ruin a fishing trip with small children. Lightning can cause major safety hazards as well.
Don’t rely on weather reports alone, however. Watch the weather once you are on the water. If you see signs of foul weather, make your way back to shore.
Fishing with kids requires a lot of work. But congratulations are in order, as your reward may very well be a new angler with a love for the sport. Stay safe and have a great time!