Take A Kid Fishing, You’ll Be Glad That You Did

Father and Son with fish

“Take a kid fishing, you’ll be glad that you did.” This Johnny Morris quote appears in a variety of places. You’ll find it in Bass Pro Shops catalogs, on our website and in a number of other locations.

For more than 50 years Bass Pro Shops has been committed to taking kids fishing and to making the outdoors accessible to families from all backgrounds. There is action behind this commitment.

Group at Bait & Tackle - Bass Pro
The 2023 Take a Kid Fishing event at the Bass Pro Shops Grandaddy store in Springfield, Missouri.

Through the Bass Pro Shops Take a Kid Fishing program, we’ve donated more than 400,000 rods and reels to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Each year through events at our stores and the network of conservation partners we work with, Bass Pro Shops introduces thousands of families and millions of kids to the outdoors… many for the first time.

Why are we so committed to introducing kids to fishing? Because fishing with kids is wonderful. Here’s three of our favorite reasons why fishing is good for kids… and good for the people who take them.

Fishing Imparts a Sense of Wonder and Adventure

Fishing perfectly suits kids and their love of adventure. The places where you fish and the creatures that you try to catch stimulate imagination and inspire the sense of wonder that comes so naturally to children.

Kids with Shark
Fishing is a wonderful way to stimulate imaginations and create connections with nature.

Childhood development research shows a wide range of cognitive benefits associated with unstructured play and the use of imagination. Fishing, and the sense of wonder and adventure it imparts, is really good for kids.

This is no word of exaggeration. It is also universal.

The sense of wonder is evident when you watch a three-year-old play with the contents of a minnow bucket. It is also clear on the face of a 14-year-old the first time he or she hooks into a tarpon (or lunker bass or big catfish…).

When adults look upon a river, lake or ocean, we all too often see just a river, lake or ocean. When a kid looks at the same thing, they see something more. Being surrounded by nature inspires awe and creativity. The river or the lake might as well be a vast ocean.

kids in livewell
You’d be surprised how much fun a young kid can have with a bait bucket full of minnows… or a live well!

If you need proof of these statements, just listen to a young kid explain the experience of catching a fish to another young kid. It’s amazing to listen to how their excited minds can describe a 2-pound largemouth or a five-inch bluegill as though it were a 1,200-pound blue marlin.

The hope, anticipation and exuberance on the face of a kid immersed in the joy of catching a fish is a wonderful sight. It sets off a series of benefits for the kids who are fishing and the adults that take them.

When a child catches a fish, the act imparts confidence and a sense of accomplishment. The combined experience—anticipation leading to wonder that turns to satisfaction—is an emotional arch.

Little girl catches fish
The satisfaction and happiness that occurs when a kid catches a fish can be seen on the faces of the whole family.

Kids not only have fun while fishing, but the activity helps them understand and relate with the world. It is cause and effect… imparting life lessons through recreation while experiencing the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing a goal.

Being Outside, Living in the Present

People love adventure. Kids especially so.

When it comes to planning an adventure for the kids, its easier than you might think. You don’t need to head to a theme park, climb a mountain or book an African safari.

In its most fundamental terms, a kid adventure requires just two things: spontaneity and the ability to interact with events that are not scripted. A fishing trip, it turns out, can be a wonderful adventure—even if its just fishing at the park down the street.

A dip net, a creek, and a crawfish… Adventure and family memories.

Events that are spontaneous and unscripted? Fishing provides both of these things in spades. When you’re on the water, you never know what you’re going to see (beavers, turtles, birds, eagles, catfish, bass, carp, deer, alligators, crawfish…). Once you see one of these things, you never know what it’s going to do.

Sitting with your favorite kid fishing partner and watching a bobber can be a great time to catch up on life. You never know when, or if, the bobber is going to disappear. If the bobber does go under, you can’t be sure what size or type of fish that you’ll be tangling with. This is a spontaneous and unscripted as it gets.

What’s more, while you and your young fishing partner are waiting for the bobber to disappear, you’re both living in the present. Your thoughts and focus lie in what’s happening on the water and in each other’s lives. There is no talk of schedules, homework, or work and school calendars.

Father-Son Fishing

Times like this are great for people. They help us unwind and recharge, providing a number of mental health benefits (for kids and adults both). In our modern, increasingly digital world—with the average kid spending hours every day looking at something with a screen—the spontaneous, unscripted, adventure aspect of fishing is especially beneficial.

Quality Time with Family and Lifelong Memories

Before taking a kid fishing for the first time, it is wise to heed this warning. What may start with a trip to the lake with a couple of poles and a can of worms could well turn into a lifelong passion that spans decades. (It happens frequently enough to require this disclaimer.)

Family fishing

Fishing has the ability to cast its spell on people. Once hooked, a passionate angler may devote untold hours (even days, weeks, months or years) of his or her life in the pursuit of fish and fishing.

This passion knows no bounds. It transcends age, culture, race, gender and background. There have been people who were really passionate about fishing for about as long as there have been people.

Kids fishing

If you ask any passionate adult angler, most are likely to remember their first time on the water. What evolves into a lifelong love affair often starts innocently enough—with a fishing trip with Dad, Mom or maybe an uncle or grandparent. For those cast asunder by the charm of fishing these early experiences are more than formative.

If you take a kid fishing for the first time—and that kid develops a love for the activity that enriches the remainder of his or her life—you have done something special. Passionate fishermen take their own kids fishing in the hope that the activity brings as much joy and enrichment to the lives of their kids as it has to their own.

Father and son catch a big fish

If you take a kid fishing for the first time and that kid develops a lifelong passion for being on the water, you will likely enter into some of his or her most cherished memories. Ask most any diehard angler and they’ll tell you… The nostalgic appreciation for those who make our formative fishing experiences possible is as universal in adult anglers as the joy that a two-year-old angler experiences with one hand in can of worms and the other in a bucket of minnows.

Fishing with Kids is Wonderful

Fishing with kids is wonderful. It is wonderful for them and wonderful for you. And who knows, the same kid that needs you to take them fishing today might well be your passport to the water when you yourself are old.

“Take a kid fishing, you’ll be glad that you did.” Johnny Morris

Father and son on a fishing boat