Fishing is a fantastic sport, partially because you can enjoy it alone, savoring the quiet of dawn on the water. But you can also enjoy the sport with your family or friends, creating lifelong bonds and memories. However, not all kids immediately love the idea of fishing. They might think it’s boring, complain about the cold or be reluctant to touch live bait or a wriggling fish.
If you love fishing, you want to pass those skills down to your children. By consciously making their first few fishing trips child-friendly, you can not only get your kid interested in fishing but ensure they become lifelong angling enthusiasts.
Shorten Your Trips
One of the best ways to turn your kid off fishing is by bringing them on a five-hour fishing trip at dawn. Little kids have short attention spans, even for activities they love. If they aren’t sure about fishing, making it a long day doesn’t help.
How long your kids can tolerate depends on their age, maturity and current likes and dislikes. Although every child is unique, most child experts agree a child’s attention span is about two to three minutes for every year of age. Under this rule, a two-year-old can focus for 4 to 6 minutes, while an eight-year-old can stay attentive for 16 to 24 minutes.
Although you don’t need to keep your fishing trips to under 10 minutes long, understand your child will not sit still for hours waiting for a bite. For younger children, plan a trip of around an hour and, if you’re on the water, try to stay close to shore.
You know your child and how long they will focus before a tantrum, so keep that in mind when planning their first few fishing trips. Break the trip down into smaller tasks, including packing the tackle box, baiting the hook and practicing casting. While you are waiting for a bite, engage your kids in some quiet fishing-related games or activities, such as spotting marine wildlife or taking photos for a scrapbook.
Choose Your Location Carefully
Kids get bored easily, so choose a location with plenty of fish that are easy to catch. Although you can’t guarantee a catch during your trip, choosing a well-stocked lake or stream is a good way to increase the odds. Do some research on your local areas and choose a location that has recently seen a lot of activity.
For smaller kids, choose an area that allows for shore-fishing. If they get cranky or tired, it’s easier to head home from the shore rather than having to return in the boat. Another benefit of sticking to solid land is your kids can skip rocks, run around in the grass or have a splash in the water to pass the time.
You can also help improve your child’s chances of catching a fish by using live bait. Your kids may also enjoy the wiggling minnows more than plastic bait.
Check the Weather
Fishing in a downpour might be worth it for an experienced angler, but your kids may become uncomfortable in poor weather. For their first few fishing trips, try to go on a day with calm, sunny weather.
Heavy rainstorms or strong winds can also make the water muddier. Your kids will have more fun if they can see through the water the fish they’re trying to catch.
Focus on the Fun
Make sure your kids see you having fun. Although it’s natural to get frustrated if there are no bites or a fish gets away, try to laugh it off. Kids take their cues from their parents and learn from your reactions. By laughing it off, your kids learn even though they didn’t catch a fish, the day was still a success.
You can also focus on making the entire fishing trip a fun day out. If you can, choose a fishing spot in a park with easy walking trails for kids, a playground or a place where they can also jump in the water for a quick swim.
Kids love hands-on activities, and some might find sitting and holding a rod too boring. If your kids love getting their hands dirty, try taking them catfish fishing by jugging with pool noodles. The kids will love the brightly colored pool noodles, and you might find it easier to get them to look out for a nibble.
Dress Them Appropriately
Although many kids resist weather-appropriate clothing, it’s essential you make sure your children have the right apparel for fishing.
Besides checking the weather and bringing along waterproof outerwear, a jacket if it’s cold and waterproof boots, you also need to bring some child-sized polarized sunglasses. These protect their delicate eyes from the sun and also make it easier for them to spot the fish under the water.
You should also bring along at least one change of clothes. Fishing can get messy and, if it’s cold out, wet pants could make your child chilly and uncomfortable.
Choose an Easy Fish
Most experienced anglers know each fish requires different fishing techniques. Some are easier to master than others. Looking for a fish known for its scarcity, like Atlantic salmon, or aiming to catch a species known for its speed, like a Muskie, might discourage your child when they don’t catch a fish on their first or second try.
Tailor your fishing with your kid to a common species near you. Do some research on what’s in season for your area and ensure you know the best bait and time of day to hit the water. Whether you are tuna fishing or trying to catch some perch, research can help your kid catch their first fish.
Have All the Gear You Need
Fishing with kids can be a rewarding experience, and instilling a love for the sport at an early age can result in a lifelong passion. Your kids’ first few experiences could hook them for life or turn them off fishing for years. By making sure they have a good time, create fantastic memories and catch a few fish, you can look forward to years of fishing with your kids.
Head to Mossy Oak’s store to ensure you have all the gear you need to make your kid’s first few fishing trips comfortable and exciting. Whether you need toddler-sized camo hoodies or rubber boots for your elementary school kid, we have what you need.