In one way, fishing suffers from its own success. What you see on social media, watch on television, and read about in so many magazines is the “expensive stuff.” If that’s all you’re exposed to, it’s easy to see how you might think that to go fishing you need a five-figure boat, loaded with five-figure electronics and tackle, and tailored behind a five-figure truck. Thankfully, that’s far from reality.
Most - nearly all, people who fish, young and old still get their start fishing from shore, or very near shore. All that’s required is some inexpensive tackle, a place to go, and one thing worth infinitely more than five figures – a willing, patient teacher who knows how to catch fish from shore.
On any early fishing trip, it’s critically important the new angler experience success. What you catch and how big it is really doesn’t matter. What is important is action – bobbers going under, fish tugging on the line, reeling in fish, and lots of photos of the newbie with fish! You need to catch fish to hold their interest.
If, despite your best efforts, the fish don’t cooperate – well, that’s another beauty of shore fishing for the beginner - you can be packed up and enjoying a picnic or chasing butterflies or catching frogs in less than five minutes!
But to help find action fishing from shore here are some tips:
1. Species of Fish - Find Out What's Biting & Where
Do your recon online, at local bait stores, with conservation officers, and with actual legwork. Find out what’s biting and where; tailor your fishing tackle, bait and techniques for that species. There’s a big difference between how you catch catfish and bluegills, for example. Both can be caught from shore and both can be willing biters making them excellent options for beginning anglers as opposed to, say, muskies. But it would be a big mistake to show up at a local pier or dock planning to catch catfish when it’s the bluegills that are biting.
Exactly what you catch isn’t that important. For example, bullhead catfish repulse many anglers, but a beginner loves the dogging fight they’ll put up. Heck, if all else fails, catching crayfish among the shoreline rocks is way more fun than waiting for a trout that never shows up!
2. When to Go Fishing With a New Angler
When the fish are biting at a popular shore or pier fishing location chances are it’s going to be a busy place– especially during peak times like weekends and holidays.
Pushing a new angler into this kind of environment is a mistake, especially for someone who has limited casting skills. Either figure out a time (like early morning in mid-week) that’s not so busy or hunt down a sleeper location or one on private property. The rookie will be happier to have your focused attention, and you’ll be happier because you won’t have anyone interfering. Of course, you’ll need to weigh your student’s enthusiasm for o’dark-thirty wakeup calls. Remember, everything about these early fishing experiences must be F-U-N.
3. Teach Safety First to Young Anglers
You’re taking on a big responsibility taking a young angler fishing. These intros generally take hold best if they happen before age five. Most kids that young haven’t learned to swim yet, so wearing a life jacket even on shore or the dock should be mandatory. If you’re bank fishing, try to find a place where there’s at least a little margin for error if the youngster did fall into the water - meaning no steep, drop-off banks. Fishing piers are great because they usually have railings.
For your part, this situation means constant awareness and focus on the child. No unattended bathroom breaks. No walks down the bank to find a better spot. The child is within arm’s reach and under your supervision at all times.
4. Use Simple Basic Fishing Tackle & Gear for Kids
An easy-casting rod and reel fishing combo (as snarl-resistant as possible), small bobbers, fishing hooks, and split-shot sinkers are all that’s really required. Even the small, themed rod and reel combos like the Shakespeare Disney Mickey Lighted Rod and Reel Combo is good for the smallest anglers because the rod if very short and easy to control. (If you’re fishing from a dock no casting even needs to be involved; just drop it along side the pier and catch the fish hiding in the shade underneath it.)
The right gear is important. If at all possible, try to find fish that will bite on a simple bait like an earthworm, grub, minnow, or artificial like Berkley “Gulp” presented below a reasonably sized float. Fishing by feeling for a light bite is too much to ask of the beginner. Having to see a tiny float or strike
indicator is frustrating. Remember, we’re after A-C-T-I-O-N, not finesse or big fish.
Tip: Use This Simple Shore Fishing Gear List for Kids
Bass Pro Shops Premium Weighted Balsa Spring Floats: Weight is molded into the Bass Pro Shops® Premium Weighted Balsa Spring Bobber Float for a clean, snag-free finish.
Bass Pro Shops 124-Piece Reusable Split Shot – Weight Assortment: This kit contains 60 (BB), 40 (#3/0), 10 (#7), 8 (#5), 6 (#4) sized split shot weights.
Eagle Claw Baitholder Fishing Hooks: This fishing hook has two barbs to hold the worm on better for small kids that might not be great at casting or frustrated with the fish constantly cleaning off their hook.
USE CAUTION when using these hooks with young anglers. If the young angler is going to bait the hook themselves, a good simple fishing hook like the Bass Pro Shops Aberdeen Fishing Hooks with a long smooth shank is a great choice.
Bass Pro Shops Fish Stiks Rod & Reel Fish Combo: This Spincast Rod and Reel Combo is an affordable setup that will allow a young angler to continue to learn the joys of fishing.
Zebco 33 Spincast Rod & Reel Fishing Combo A favorite for generations, the Zebco 33 spincast fishing rod and reel. With this combo, you get the rod, reel with many improvements over previous versions to make fishing easier and more fun for everyone!
5. Don't Forget the Fishing Gear Add-Ons
The rod, reel, and minimal tackle – plus some bait – is what you’ll need to catch fish. There are a few items you should consider adding that will make the beginner’s first shore fishing experiences more fun and keep them at it longer if the action slows down.
Kid-size Camp Chair: For a comfortable place to sit, out of the wet, buggy grass, the Bass Pro Shops Eclipse Camp Chair for Kids gives youngsters a great seat fishing, at outdoor events and weekend campouts.
Thermos Element 5 Can Cooler: A cooler full of favorite snacks and beverages. This compact and collapsible cooler folds flat to give you the versatility you need without taking up valuable storage space.
Bass Pro Shops Collapsible Fish Basket: If kids aren’t catching fish, they love to look at the fish they have caught. Tying off a mesh basket to a shoreline location keeps the fish swimming, healthy, and available for inspection … and re-inspection. And when it’s time to go home you can decide what to keep and what to release.
Bass Pro Shops Bank Fishing Rod Holder: Sure, you can just lay the rod down on the ground, but it could get kicked, stepped on, or worse. You can make a rod holder from a forked limb, but just the right branch is always hard or impossible to find. A steel rod holder is expensive insurance, and it positions the rod correctly to detect bites.
6. Have Patience - It's About the Youngster having a Great Time
Chances are very high the outing isn’t going to be what you’d call a fishing trip. This is about the youngster having a good … make that great … time no matter what that turns into. You’re far better off to quit too early before the youngster tires of it rather than too late after he or she is bored. If that means 15 minutes of fishing and two hours of swinging on the swings in the park, so be it. Remember this is the youngster’s trip … not yours.
The tale(s) of this trip may be told 1,000 times or more in the youngster’s lifetime. And no matter what happens (even if it turns into a butterfly hunting expedition or a stop a the ice cream store), it will be a special time to remember.