In a day and age where technologies like Xbox, Facebook, the Internet, microwaves, etc. have taken over our daily lives, it is nice to leave it all behind and go out and enjoy the outdoors.
However, how do we compete with these technologies and keep kids’ attention at a high level while we are fishing? Not every time we go out fishing are the fish going to cooperate with us, and it is during those times that kids lose interest in fishing and want to go back to something that can keep them entertained and occupied for hours. So we go back home, and the first thing they do is get back into their Xbox game, and off into the high-tech world they go.
Fortunately, it does not always have to be that way. We will discuss ways to take the little rugrats out fishing; they will enjoy themselves and, shockingly, ask you to take them out again.
Having organized and hosted an annual kids’ fishing tournament for the past seven years, I have seen plenty of kids with a smile on their faces as they catch fish, all this while fishing from the dock. I have had parents come up to me and say, “If I could only get them to be this focused on fishing all the time!” or “I can’t believe that my daughter didn’t want to leave after 30 minutes of fishing!” This event runs for four hours, and we stop at noon for hot dogs and juice boxes, but 10 minutes into the lunch break, the kids want to get back to the docks fishing. How does that happen, you ask? Funny, that is the same question that a lot of the parents ask me, too. Here is the secret:
It all starts with planning the day ahead of time and being prepared for everything. Preparation is the key to a successful kid fishing adventure and the start of many great memories for both you and your young anglers. Kids don’t care what kind of fish they catch; they just want to catch fish. So panfish is a great species to target for kids. Perch, bluegill and pumpkinseed (see picture above) are usually pretty easy to catch as long as you are using the proper tackle.
Tackle and bait is the most important part in any fishing adventure. You don’t want to be fishing for panfish with a 7’6” heavy action flipping stick with 65-lbs. braid. That would be like going out in spring with a parka ... overkill. You want something small and easy for them to use. Depending on the age and height of the child, you can start them off with the Spiderman or Princess rod and for older kids a spin cast or spinning rod.
Again, something light or ultra light with 2- to 6-lbs. test line. Like the mouths of these fish, the bait needs to be small, as well: 1/32-oz., 1/16-oz., 1/8-oz. jig heads and small tubes jigs or just a small hook with a small chunk of dew worms. Either rig will do, but I always add some dew worms to the hook. The gills and seeds cannot resist it.
The second thing to bring along with you is food/snacks. This way, if the fishing gets a little slow, take a little break and have an apple, or cheese and crackers. Once the snacks are done, get them back to fishing.
The third thing to bring is something other than fishing for the kids to do. Depending on the age, this means a colouring book or picture book, a doll, and, yes, even the iPod. This will stop them from asking “Can we go now?”
I know what you are thinking: ”I thought we were bringing them out to get them away from the games?”
We are, and I will show you how you will get them to put it down and get them back fishing. You keep fishing, and once they see you catching fish one after the other, they will want to catch some, too, and up they come with rod in hand, asking you if they can fish where you are.
I’m telling you because I did the exact same thing once when my at-the-time 8-year-old daughter asked to do a tournament with me. One of my sponsors, George’s Marine and Sports (Tracker Dealer), was hosting a Tracker customer appreciation tournament. So I thought this would be a good one for us to get into.
Well, as most tournaments, early to bed, early to rise. So we are in the boat fishing and we have been fishing for a few hours now. She caught a small pound-and-half largemouth and the bite was a slow. She hadn’t caught anything in a couple of hours, so she asked if she could play her Nintendo DS. I said sure, no problem. So she proceeds to put her rod down and go into the compartment to get her DS.
Just then, I land a 3.5-lbs. largemouth. We put it in the livewell. She then looks up at me and says “Dad, I can play my DS another time, can I go back to fishing?” I said “sure thing” and gave her her rod back. She ended up catching two more bass. She won the kids’ division of the tournament and had a great time. We still talk about that day when we are in the boat together. She is 14 now, and those are memories that we will share forever.
So, take your child fishing. Prepare for the day and you, too, will be able to spend some quality time with your children and make memories that will last a lifetime.
by Peter Larmand