We bet you have a lot of questions about your first family fishing trip. No worries. The next time you go fishing with the kids, you’ll be well prepared. Read on to learn all you need to know about fishing for kids: how to choose the right trip, how to prep your kids for their first time fishing, what fish to catch, and what to look for in a boat.
Have the “Talk”
Before your next family fishing trip, you should talk to your kids about fishing.
Either watch some TV shows on fishing or google fishing videos together. Educate them on what types of fish you can catch in the place where you plan to go. Just don’t start with Billfish or Sharks!
Take the time to tell your kids what’s going on. Explain the basic concepts, such as ‘bait’, ‘lure’, and ‘rod’, but keep it simple and interesting. Tell them how fishing works and that it’s fine if they lose the fish, some bait, or lures. You can either draw something on a piece of paper (and unleash your inner artist!), or get them some toys to play with. I spent hours as a kid with a set of “Let’s Go Fishin” – so you might want to use something similar, too.
One important thing here: if you’ve found the right captain, tell your kids about them: what’s their name, what kind of boat do they have, what’s their favorite fish. The idea is to make your kids familiar with the captain so that they feel free to ask questions, learn, and have fun.
How long should your trip last?
There are some kids who grew up with their angler moms and dads. Other kids haven’t had the chance to spend that much time on the water. In many cases, the first fishing trip is actually the first time kids are on the water.
That’s why you should start with shorter trips first. Keep it to a half day trip, especially if your kids are under 10-12. You can do a lot of solid fishing in four hours and most kids will get bored by the time the trip is done anyway. No need to push them to the breaking point.
Teenagers, however, can go on longer fishing trips. That it is, if you manage to get them to.
Get the right equipment.
Start your kids out with a simple push-button spin-casting rod and reel combo that is light-weight. Leave the bait-casting and fly rods at home. With basic equipment, children will spend more time with their line in the water and less time dealing with technical problems. Rig up a basic hook, sinker, and bobber, and watch your kids light up as they see the bobber go under.
Practice at home.
You can get your kids excited and ready for a fishing trip by practicing at home first. Let them get the feel for casting by practicing (without hooks) in your backyard. This will help them develop timing and coordination in a low-stress environment. You can even put out targets for them to try to hit as they cast so they can work on their aim.
Make it fun (for kids).
While many adult anglers take their fishing seriously, it's important to keep things fun for the kids. Be patient, stay positive, and focus on giving your child an amazing experience. Keep fishing trips short when you're first starting out, especially if your kids are really young. An hour or two will likely be just enough to keep them wanting more. When they start to get bored, encourage them to explore the shoreline to look for critters or skip rocks. Your children will care more about having fun with you than what they catch.
Keep them comfortable.
Snacks, drinks, sunscreen, and bug spray are all important to keep the kids happy and comfortable. Make sure everyone is in appropriate clothing for the weather.
A fun day fishing can be quickly ruined by injury. Consider using barbless hooks or use needle nose pliers to bend down the barbs on your hooks. If kids are going to bait their own hook, teach them to be cautious. Even when fishing along shore, children should be in life jackets as they learn to fish. Polarized sunglasses help protect young eyes from the sun and also provide protection from tree branches or hooks. Remember to pack a small first aid kit.
As your kids practice and become more comfortable, fishing trips will become more fun for them (and for you). Keep it interesting by switching up your routine with a new fishing spot or type of bait. As your children get older, they will become more independent and want to try learning new techniques.