Teaching kids how to fish is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, as I am not only a father but also a fishing guide. When taking clients out fishing you need to break the ice, the client needs to feel comfortable and know they can depend on you. I break the ice by asking the client how they became interested in fishing. Almost immediately, a story is shared about childhood, and how there was that one special person who started the client’s life-long fishing addiction. Most of the time it is a father or in my case, a grandfather.
Fishing for Kids: Learning Basics
As fathers, we have an important responsibility to pass along our love of fishing. Here are a few simple things you can do to make sure your love of fishing is passed on to the next generation. When taking kids fishing the focus should be on having fun, not catching fish right away. Kids need to experience excitement on this journey.
The excitement begins with buying the first rod and reel. Take your kid to the local fishing store and let them select their first rod and reel, even if it is a Mickey Mouse one. As uneventful as this may be for you, it is incredibly impactful on your kids. When purchasing the first rod and reel, the reels that have a black push button on the back are the best choice for kids as they are less complicated, have less external moving parts, and are less likely to break while your child is using it.
The next task is finding the right tackle box. You can buy the box and tackle separately, however, most of the time there are small tackle boxes that include hooks, bobbers, weights, and usually some plastic worms. The all-in-one option is ideal because the box is pre-packaged with everything you need for that first fishing trip.
Now it is time to actually fish, but first your daughter or son must learn how to use the new rod and reel they were so excited to purchase with you. Though learning this skill can be difficult, your little one will soon be a master. Casting is an art form that can take years to master. When you are teaching your kid though, don’t worry about perfection just allow them to have fun when first starting out.
Here are a few ideas to make the learning process easier and more fun. First and foremost, do not tie a hook on the line when practicing. A great way to learn is to tie a bobber on the end of the line and go through the steps of casting. Make sure the bobber is not too close to the tip of the rod, press the black button in and hold it, bring the rod over your child’s shoulder, then slowly bring the rod forward and release the black button when the rod is at a 45-degree angle between the shoulder and the elbow.
Once your child understands the basics of fishing, you can add in some fun. Place plastic cups in the yard and have your kid cast toward the cups with the goal of trying to knock the cups down. You can even make a game out of it by joining in the fun and racing to see who can knock all of the cups down first. Believe it or not, my son has beaten me a few times, and he absolutely loves the game.
Teaching Kids to Fish: Timing
Once the concept of casting is understood, it is time to go fishing. Young anglers have short attention spans so sitting in one spot staring at a floating bobber is not exactly the highlight of their young lives. A great place to take your kid for his or her first few fishing trips is a local retention pond. Retention ponds are usually stocked with Brim and are a lot of fun for kids to catch. Brim love to eat bread, so there’s no special bait needed, and kids won’t be traumatized by threading a hook through a worm.
All you need to do is pull off a piece of bread, ball it up, and poke the hook through the bread ball. Then let your child cast it out, and wait for the action to start. To attract fish to the area, throw pieces of bread in the water. Normally fish will school up around the bread floating on top of the water and your kid will have a target to cast to, just like the cup game learned in the yard.
Getting Kids Excited for Fishing
When your kid catches a fish make it a big deal, make them feel like it is the biggest and best fish any person in the history of fishing has ever caught. Let your child touch the fish, ask questions, and explain the different parts of the fish. Your kid will be very excited. If your little one can be trusted not squeeze the fish too hard, let them release the fish, and explain the importance of releasing the fish so the fish can grow bigger be caught another day. Most importantly, if the fishing is slow, move to a new spot or pack up and go do something else fun. Children can get bored easily. The goal is to make fishing fun so your child will develop a love of fishing for years to come.
Fishing for kids has been great bonding time for my son and I, he constantly asks me if we can go fishing. Sometimes I have to tell him no and it breaks my heart, but if I’m not absolutely certain he would have a fun trip it is the right thing to do. In the long run I know that his love of fishing will only grow stronger with exciting, joyful experiences and that love will become something that will live on far into the future.
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