Introducing a child to fishing is a wonderful way to get a youngsters love for the outdoors started. By following a few simple rules, you can make the day one that the both of you will remember for many years to come.
Where to Go
Although as adults we’ve grown to appreciate the hard fight of a bass or a muskie, children need to start small, with varieties of fish that are common and abundant. Panfish are the perfect choice, as perch, bluegills, sunfish and crappie are almost always willing to bite.
A local pond or lake is an excellent starting point. Make sure that the area you plan to fish is close to home, as long car rides will tire most youngsters out before the fun even begins. The spot you choose should have good shoreline access (if not using a boat). Grassy areas that are free of trees and shrubs are the best spots for kids.
What to Bring
There are a few important considerations when planning your outing and deciding what to bring can make or break the day. I always suggest leaving your own rod at home. You’ll be kept busy enough unhooking fish, baiting hooks and unsnagging lures. Purchase a child’s rod that is of the appropriate length. A spincast combo works best and is the easiest to begin with.
Make sure you bring live bait, long-shanked hooks and a bobber. Bait will give them the greatest chance of catching fish and the float will make it easy for registering strikes.
If the child gets bored with fishing, playing with the worms or minnows will also bring excitement. And if that’s all they feel like doing, then join in the fun, as there are more aspects to fishing than just casting a line.
Always bring a good assortment of snacks and juices in a cooler. Children have big appetites and there’s nothing worse than running out of food out on the lake. Take time out for a picnic. Discuss the things you’ve done and find out what they liked best.
Fishing is much more than the physical act of catching a fish. It also involves taking in the scenery and wildlife, as well as the boat ride or splashing along the shoreline. (My greatest pastime was catching crayfish when the pannies stopped biting — my dad always brought a bucket and scoop for this thrilling activity.)
Safety is another concern that adults must be aware of when taking a child fishing. Always make sure the child is wearing a life vest (in the proper size) and don’t let them wander out of your sight. Children are an adventurous bunch so stick close by them at all times.
Always bring warm clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
A camera is on the “to bring” list. Capturing those memories on film will reward you with everlasting memories for the years to come.
If you don’t have a child of your own, see if a neighbor’s son or daughter would be interested in a day out.
The sport of fishing is a positive experience, and one that is even more special when shared. Not only will you gain a new fishing partner, but also a whole lot of fun in the process.