What could sound more innocent and playful than that? Let’s just say that it can go either way with kids. It can be magical or it can be a grind. Here’s a few tips for avoiding the latter.
The key is holding their interest, which is usually easy when the fish are biting. It’s when the bite slows down (or never shows up) that one becomes concerned. This is why you should be prepared, and why we compiled the following checklist to that end.
While this may seem like a lengthy laundry list, if you follow these steps your chances of repeat fishing adventures will greatly increase. Just remember they’re kids, and how it felt when you were a kid. If they find a pleasant distraction, let them explore that in addition to fishing.
STEP 1 - Plan an Easy Trip
While it’s sort of a no-brainer, don't start too big when it comes to fishing with kids. Try not to drive over an hour if possible, and make the whole outing fun by telling fish stories or playing road games.
Here’s where devices can come into play before reaching the water. Let them engage in whatever they’re used to on devices beforehand so they have it out of their system and are ready to get outside once you reach your destination.
Bathroom access is essential to keeping them content, as is room to move and cast if you aren’t taking them on a boat. Of course, life jackets are another essential item anywhere near the water.
STEP 2 - Prepare for the Elements
Just remember how unpredictable the weather can be no matter the forecast. Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, bug repellent, safe shoes, windbreaker or poncho, swimsuits and other water-related items should be included.
The last thing you want is a child that is miserable due to being cold or wet, or one that plays too hard in the sun and winds up with a sunburn. One way around the sun is our Helios Kids’ Sun Shirts that feature UPF50+ sun protection and a cool polyester blend fabric they’ll want to wear all the time. That’s good as it eliminates the need for sunblock in those areas.
STEP 3 - Target Small Fish Species
An easy, quick bite is what you’re looking for, so look no further than panfish or trout, as they are easily accessible from shore and generally willing biters. Kids revel in touching them and seeing them shake at the end of the line. Go ahead and let them, assuming no hooks or fish barbs can hurt them. That too may make a sad ending to the day.
It’s also best to keep it simple when it comes to tackle and gear. A hook, sinker and bobber is still the best rig for reeling in panfish. Circle hooks will also help with kids, as those smaller fish can’t swallow the hook. This makes them much easier to unbutton and far less damage to the fish, who often will die after swallowing a hook.
If you need help in assembling or learning more about fishing gear, we also have a blog for that so no fear if you are relatively new to fishing. At WindRider we’re all about having fun, making memories and enjoying the water. This blog series is part of that commitment.
STEP 4 - Snacks Snacks Snacks
These are certain to be at the top of your kid’s list for things to remind you about. Make sure you have the right ones for your kids, easy to pack and serve, and healthy enough for them to have all they want.
Go ahead and spoil them a little as these should be fun trips they love to go on.
They can also serve as rewards for patience as the kids get more restless. Teaching them patience and good stewardship of the resources should be part of the life lessons they take away. When that patience pays off with a nice fish, it is imprinted on them for good.
STEP 5 - Set a Time Limit
Generally speaking, this will depend on the age of the kids and the extent of their interest. By and large after an hour or more you may start losing younger kids, so plan on about that amount to be realistic.
If you’re fishing out of a boat, you’ll most likely find they will lose interest faster, especially if the bite is slow. Be ready for that with snacks and other activities that will help keep them on the water longer. Be ready for the nagging to go in after an hour though.
STEP 6 - Other Activities
Don’t be afraid to let them explore all around and find other activities to engage in, such as rock or shell collecting, counting different insects they find, swimming, paddle boarding - you get the idea. Anything they enjoy doing outdoors is fair game here. If it’s not JUST about fishing, you’re more likely to have happy campers.
When my own girls were young we would hike back into the woods behind our hobby farm and fish off the bank of a small lake. It was understood that we would first swim after that long hike, then fish, then swim again. That routine made it so much easier for us all to enjoy;)
So if you’re brave enough to take kids out fishing, more power to you. Our hope is that these steps will help ensure you keep them fishing for a lifetime, and make a lifetime of memories in the process. Tight lines! -WR