There are certainly plenty of things to do this spring, but few are better than spending an afternoon fishing with your children. Most kids – even those who’ve never had the chance to fish before – absolutely love to spend the day on the water while reeling in fish.
But, there’s a fine line between a great day on the water, which will fill their heads with wonderful memories, and a miserable day, which may turn them off from the sport for good. You can usually stay on the right side of that line by preparing correctly and adopting an approach that will likely result in stringers full of fish – a sure recipe for smiles.
The following five tips will help keep you on the right track:
1. Select a kid-friendly fishing spot.
You may enjoy leaning out over a rock while trying to pitch your lure under a tangle of overhanging branches, but you’ll want your kids to avoid doing so unless you want to spend all day retrieving snagged hooks. Instead, you’ll want to pick somewhere that is easy to access and provides plenty of space for your kids to cast safely. It’s also a good idea to select a place with plenty of sun or shade (as the season dictates) for comfort’s sake.
2. Target species that are easy to catch.
Your kids will have a better time if they actually catch fish – no one likes to stare at a float bobbing up and down in the water all day. Accordingly, you’ll want to target species that are easy to catch. This means ignoring the bass, trout and other popular game fish, and instead targeting the catfish and bluegill. You’ll get more bites doing so, and you have a pretty good chance of catching a bunch of them, which will delight your kids immensely.
3. Outfit your kids with the right fishing gear and tackle.
Don’t hand your 7-year-old your 7 ½-foot baitcasting rod for his first fishing trip – you’ll only be courting disaster. Instead, set him or her up with a 5- to 6-foot-long spincasting or spinning rig. And if your children are very young, consider simplifying things even more by giving them a cane pole. Tie a float and a cricket- or worm-baited hook to the end and help them find a good spot to cast – leave the spinnerbaits and Texas rigs for a future trip, once they’ve accumulated a bit of experience. You could even use light tackle fishing charters if you are looking for more of an adventurous day out.
4. Provide the necessary creature comforts.
Kids don’t tolerate inclement weather, soaring temperatures or bug bites very well, so do everything you can to keep them comfortable while fishing. Dress them appropriately for the weather, lather them up in sunscreen and bug repellent, and have plenty of hot or cold drinks on hand, to help keep them comfortable in unpleasant weather. But, you can always let them run back inside the cabin if their mood sours; but don’t worry, they’ll come back out when you start catching fish.
5. Be sure to follow all relevant rules and regulations.
You don’t want to mar your kid’s first fishing experience with an unpleasant encounter with a game warden or Fish and Wildlife official, so you must make sure that you obtain a fishing license and familiarize yourself with the state regulations before hitting the water.
Above all else, remember to keep a positive attitude and be ready to roll with the punches. If your kids decide they’d rather play with the crickets than use them for bait, let them. If your kids decide they’d rather explore the shoreline looking for pretty rocks, that’s OK too. Anything you can do to ensure they walk away from the experience with a smile on their face will help foment a positive association with fishing and will help foster a lifelong love of the sport. If you’d like to learn a few more tips for making your child’s first fishing trip a memorable one, head on over to Outdoor Empire and check out their comprehensive review of the topic.
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