I say it a lot in this blog, but kids are the most important part of my life. I have two little girls and a son that was taken by his mom about 21 years ago. 🙁 I did get to take him fishing when he was 3 though!
Taking your kids fishing can be a life-changing experience for them and for yourself. In our current era, there doesn’t seem to be many activities we can all do together as a family anymore. Fishing is one of them we can.
Going fishing with family and friends when I was younger taught me so much that I want to also share with my family… with my kids. You are probably the same. I thought I would write this blog to help wrap my head around exactly what I want to teach my daughters this year and next about fishing and life.
1 – Pre-Planning Helps an Adventure Go Better
Involve your kids in the planning stages of your fishing trip! Don’t just plan your fishing trip with your kids by yourself. Involve them in everything that you are going to do to make the trip successful.
Start with the idea and define the trip. Ask questions like, ‘where should we go fishing this weekend? Who should we bring on the trip? How many days should we go fishing for? Should we fish from a pier, the beach, or rent a fishing boat?’
Your kids should have an equal say in what happens. But of course, you can explain to them more about the situation that they don’t know which may persuade them toward a certain answer. Try to always treat your kids as if they mean the same as an adult. Kids can see when they are treated differently, and there isn’t a good feeling inside when that happens.
Since my daughter was two years old we have tried to give her the freedom to choose what she wants to do, but if there is a problem with an agreement between the adults and the child we will give her two choices, one of which she has to make.
Do this on a daily basis not just on a fishing trip.
The thing about a fishing trip with family is that it can be very involved. There are many questions that need to be answered.
Where exactly will you go? Where will you park? What will the weather be like? When will the tides be moving? How much money will Gatsby? How much money will the food be? How much will a hotel be?
If your children are a little bit older they can find hotels for you to stay at. You can give them a budget and they can help to choose which one might be better to stay at. Teach them how to use a weather service online. Teach them how to read tide charts.
In short, involve your kids in every question and planning activity that you need to do to make the trip successful. It will help them feel as if they contributed to the success of the fishing trip.
2 – Buy Gear at Walmart with Your Kids
One thing you can do is to go over all of the fishing gear that you will need to make the trip successful. This means you probably want to choose some target species that you will fish for during the trip. We can cover that in the next one.
Take your kids to a bait shop or to the Walmart fishing section and compare different items that are brand name and no name to see what is the better deal. Educate them that brand names don’t necessarily mean they will catch more fish. However, brand-name items are usually quality checked to a higher standard and will probably last longer.
Explain that there is a decision that must be made between these two products and why you would choose what you will choose.
Make sure to look at fishing hooks, line, sinkers, floats, big buckets, live wells, fishing rods, fishing reels, and tackle boxes.
Tell your child what each item does and how it will help you catch fish.
3 – Choose a Target Species (or couple)
Choosing a target species may be easy or difficult. If you have never fished at the spot before you may not know what to expect. Still, you can do some research online and see what other people have caught at the same location. Research is a crucial part of fishing and this will drive home the importance of it.
Target a fish that’s easy to catch and that you can catch many of. For very small children that might mean just going to a pier and fishing for pinfish. Pinfish can be caught very easily on Sabiki Rigs. You can catch them any time of day or evening and they will never stop biting.
For kids over 8 or 10 years old maybe you can target snapper, redfish, catfish, ladyfish, or even jack crevalle. Don’t give them something too challenging, you are shooting for success, not for the most amazing fish you can catch!
If you are fishing at a freshwater lake you can target catfish, bass, trout, bluegills, or crappie. None of these fish are that difficult to catch and for a teenager, I think it might be a good challenge to catch bass.
4 – Setup YouTube Videos of Catching that Species During the Roadtrip
For the road trip to reach your destination, set up some videos on an iPad or phone so that they can watch and learn about catching the species that you are targeting. They may even learn some things that you don’t know.
If you are going to catch your own bait like crabs or pinfish, you can also have them watch videos about that and how exactly to do it.
Also, I should have made this a separate point, but you can shoot video with your phone on a tripod of them fishing and catching their first couple of fish it will be something that they can look back on in future years and show to their kids!
5 – Tell Your Kids Fishing Stories During the Drive
One of my favorite things to do with my daughter, my older daughter, is to tell her stories about things I have done when I was younger. During your road trip on the way to your fishing location, this can be a great time to tell your kids about fishing trips you’ve done in the past and what you have caught and what you have missed. Here’s a story about the first day of trout fishing at McConnell’s Mill in Pennsylvania when my brother almost died.
Most parents will have a story about how they received a hook in the ear, back of the neck, arm, finger, toe, or something like this so it will reinforce the idea that fishing can be dangerous with the hooks and to be careful with them!
Something that I never heard from anybody I ever fished with when I was a child is something that you can tell your kids on this trip. Nobody ever told me when I was young that there are people who fish professionally. I did see fishing tournaments and people fishing on TV. Roland somebody was on TV when I was young. Every week he would be catching fish all kinds of fish and usually the same fish like bass or trout in freshwater lakes and streams.
But I hadn’t the slightest idea that anybody was doing this for a living. I just thought that was his hobby to do after his real job. This I think is one of the great failures of my parents and close family. I was never told all of the possibilities I could do whenever I got older and I had to choose a career path.
Today I write books. I have done YouTube videos and made a lot of money there. I am making money with this fishing website. I have been a photographer in New York City. I have been in the Air Force and stationed in Hawaii. I have done many interesting things over the years for a profession.
I wish I would have been told when I was younger that I could play an instrument in a band and do that the rest of my life!
Make all these things real to your children so they understand that being a doctor or lawyer is nice for some people, but maybe not for them. Give them MANY OPTIONS to choose from and try not to influence them TOO MUCH in what direction they go unless you’re encouraging something they are good at and love.
6 – Kids Get 1 Rod and Share 1
One way you can teach sharing is that each kid gets his or her own fishing rod to use to catch fish and they also get to share another rod. If you only have one child then you can share the ride with him or her.
You’ll have to decide fairly who gets the first chance at the fish on the shared rod. You can decide with rock paper scissors or some other fair means. This also makes the fishing trip a little more interesting to have multiple rods because sometimes the fishing is slow.
Don’t forget, they also share the tasks of setting up the rod to catch fish!
7 – Everyone Helps Toward the Same Goal
Before you really get started planning and everything you should kind of decide who is going to do what. You might choose your daughter to find the hotels. You might choose your son to research possible places to fish. You might ask one of them to look at the tide charts and figure out when are the best hours to fish. You might tag your wife for driving the car and paying for gas. Ha ha.
Everyone should have a list of things to do and be responsible for completing them, or you don’t go on the trip. And the kids eat cornflakes for two weeks as punishment.
8 – Giving Back to Nature
This is a great life lesson that so few people teach to their children. If you are catching your own bait and you catch too much, you can tell your children that you only need to keep so much.
Sure you could keep 600 bait fish that you just caught but the sustainable thing to do is to return all but about three dozen to the water where you caught them.
Another way you could do it if you have bait left at the end of your fishing trip you can throw it back into the water to let it have a chance at survival. For dead bait like shrimp, you don’t want to take it home to smell up the refrigerator so you can also just throw it back into the water. Let your kids do it they’ll have fun.
You could also choose to give it to somebody on the pier that doesn’t have much bait, especially another child so you could teach your child to share with other kids by giving the leftover bait to them before you leave and tell them good luck.
9 – Focus, Determination, a Bell?
Kids these days really think that everything happens at once and they don’t have to wait for anything. Fishing isn’t like that as you already know.
After your child casts out the bait and sets the drag, she may have to wait for 20 minutes until there is a bite on the other end of the line. This waiting period of staring at the rod tip to see it move can drive a kid nuts.
Let them do it for a little while and then offer to attach a small bell to the end of your rod tip so that way your child can do something else and just wait for the bell to ring. This can also teach children to be creative with their solutions to problems in life.
The other thing that it can teach them is that multitasking is a skill that requires practice. With the bell in place on the end of the rod that frees you up to be able to do other things, to multitask.
10 – Acknowledge Good Behavior and Success
if you’re not doing this now this is one thing that you really should pay attention to. I think this tip number 10 is the most important tip that I can offer you.
All day every day that you have with your kids you could be looking for opportunities to praise them for doing something right.
For thinking a certain way. For helping somebody else for not getting upset for smiling when things go wrong. All of these things deserve encouragement. Encouragement is like food for the soul for a child and you’ll see his or her face brighten as you do it more often.
With fishing, there are so many things that children need to learn that you can surely find some things to praise to make your child feel more confident and in control. They may not feel like they have control of anything but when you praise them for doing something right then that’s one thing that they think they can control and it makes them feel better.
FIshing is an amazing activity that not only helps you relax, but can bring your family together. Regular fishing trips to the pier or for camping and fishing on a Friday and Saturday night can do WONDERS for your family life.
Kids are the future. Your kids may be YOUR future. Treat them better than you were treated when you were young and make sure they learn life lessons like these above, and others you hear of through other channels.
Send me photos of your kids having fun fishing so I can post them here! Use the “About” link at the top of the page!
More Articles About Kids and Fishing!
- 12 Tips to Make Fishing More Fun for Kids
- Taking Kids Fishing for the First Time!
- How to Catch Crappie Fish (Freshwater)
- Catching Pinfish – Superbait!
[Images from unsplsh]