If you are reading this you are most likely an angler. When you started your fishing career, there was probably someone who started you in the outdoors. In many cases it may be your father, but often it could be your mother, uncle or neighbor. To keep the angling tradition alive, we must pass the torch to younger anglers.
Many anglers, even experienced ones, are unsure about taking youngsters fishing. Below are some tips for family fishing.
- Select a pond, small lake or slow moving stream with a good supply of bluegill, sunfish, small bass or even chubs and suckers. Lots of fish beats big fish when you are six. Avoid fast moving rivers and streams as well as steep banked lakes. This will make your trip much safer.
- Go for short periods of time. Often a three year old will fish for thirty minutes and be ready to chase frogs and throw rocks. As children get older, their attention span gets better allowing longer forays. Turning a fishing trip into a marathon is a sure way to turn off a youngster.
- Bring snacks. Angling is much more enjoyable for both the young and old by having a cooler with a drink, a sandwich and a candy bar.
- Consider a PFD. Even when fishing from shore accidents can happen. This can prevent a tragedy. Many modern life vests are very comfortable.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent. Sunburn and biting flies will take the enjoyment out of the trip for your companion.
- Let them use decent equipment. There are few times on the water that are as frustrating as having your gear malfunction when the fish are biting. Youngsters are no different. The equipment doesn’t have to be the best, just solid and serviceable. Most of the time, by the age of five or so, children can operate a small spinning outfit competently. Save the tiny spincast combos for toddlers.
- Don’t plan to fish much. As a child gains angling experience, they will require less assistance each trip, but the first few trips will demand your undivided attention.
- Keep a few. With catch and release becoming so common, many anglers release all of their catch. Young anglers often want to keep some fish. Most freshwater fish taste good when handled properly. Taking a few panfish for a meal (where legal) is a good way for a child to contribute to the evening meal and retell their story.
- Take pictures. Children grow up quickly and a few snapshots to remember the trip for years to come will be worth it.
- If you are not an experienced angler, many sportsman's clubs and some state entities offer events where youngsters can learn hands on. Many of these same sportsman's clubs have youth derbies. In many of these derbies, competition takes a back seat to camaraderie and learning.
- Have fun. In today’s society fishing has gotten much more serious. When fishing with kids, remember the point is recreation. Kids that have fun fishing will fish their whole lives.
See you on the water.