These timely tips will help your children have lots more fun on fishing trips.
“Oh my goodness,” my husband, Brett, yelled. “Look at the size of that fish!”
Neither of us could believe our eyes. Our son, Ethan, who was six-years-old at the time, had just reeled in an eight-pound bass. Ethan was all smiles. The large bass was by far the biggest fish he’d ever caught, and he did it all by himself.
We’d taken Ethan fishing at Brett’s uncle’s farm pond many times since he was a toddler. He’d never caught more than small bass and bream until the day of the big fish. Although catching the huge bass that day added to the enjoyment, his good time has never been defined by the size fish he caught. Like most children, Ethan just loves the experience. He loves being outside and spending time with his friends and family around the water. No school work, no chores, no sports to get in the way of a day outdoors with Mom and Dad.
Now we have four children, and we enjoy taking all four of them fishing at Uncle Jimmy’s pond. We also enjoy fishing at my parents’ lake house on Smith Lake.
As we’ve discovered, fishing is the perfect way to enjoy the wild outdoors with our children. It doesn’t require a ton of gear or getting up super early in the morning. Kids don’t necessarily have to remain quiet or still the entire time. They can take breaks when they want and enjoy snacks and drinks when they get hungry or thirsty.
Over the years, we’ve learned a few tips for making our family fishing trips fun for everyone. Fun is key here. If your children don’t have a good time the first time they go fishing with you, most likely they won’t want to go again. The pressure is on, but luckily a successful trip is possible if you keep a few things in mind.
When teaching children to fish, simple is best. Start off fishing for panfish because they’re easier to catch. When they’re young, children don’t care as much about the size of the fish as they do about the number of fish they catch. The more fish they catch, the less likely they’ll become bored, and the more fun they’ll have.
Here are a few additional tips for fishing with your children:
- Start off fishing from shore. Young children are less likely to get bored while on land than in a boat because they can run and play when they need a break. You also don’t have to worry about docking the boat for frequent bathroom trips.
- Use live bait. It’s more interesting for children. My four-year-old Ransom loves nothing better than playing with a carton full of worms. Crickets make for a good time, too.
- Start off using light tackle with a bobber. Watching the bobber get pulled under the water adds to the excitement and gives them something to focus on.
- Praise your children often. The more encouragement you give your children, the more they will enjoy the experience. If they bait the hook themselves or make a good cast, let them know that you’re proud of them and they’re on the right track to honing their angling skills.
- Patiently teach skills. If you get ill or frustrated with your children, you lessen their enjoyment. Remember, it’s all about fun. If you catch a fish, great. If not, so what?
- Don’t do everything for your children. Gradually teach them the skills they need until they are proficient and confident with their abilities.
- Remember safety and comfort are essential to everyone’s good time. Bring snacks, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, drinks, bug repellent and a first-aid kit. If you’re fishing from a boat, make sure everyone is wearing a life vest (PDF). If you’re fishing from the bank, make sure young children are wearing their life vests.
Remember these tips for a fun day of fishing with your children. Also keep in mind that Alabama’s Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries holds Community (Kids’) Fishing Programs throughout the state. The Community Fishing Program provides fishing opportunities for many who do not have such opportunities. Look here for more information.