My older brothers taught me to fish. In fact, brothers being brothers, they still try to teach me a thing or two about fishing! Now, I am teaching my kids the joy of getting out there on the water and catching fish, and believe me, as they say, the first time is the hardest.
You don’t need us to tell you how good fishing with the kids is. What we have here are sure fire ways to make your kids first fishing experience a lot more enjoyable for YOU and the kids.
The 5 Ps.
Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
Hot tip: Manage the kids expectations. Explain to them before you go that fishermen don’t catch fish every time.
Hot tip: A day’s fishing is too much for the under 5s. 4 hours including a break for meals and two 10-15 min breaks for a run/play on the swings is heaps.
Keep it simple!
Use light gear and keep tackle simple. A 5 or 6 foot rod and 6 to 8 lb line. Hook, small sinker, a bobber/float, and bait. It’s a simple combination that kids can understand.
Hot Tip: the float gives a visual aspect to fishing that will hold their interest longer and helps you keep track of where the bait is.
Hot Tip: Pack hand lines too. Throw in a couple of handlines that are “theirs”. Any fish caught on “their” lines are therefore caught by “them”.
More is more. Fish for numbers not size or species!
Kids need a quick pace to keep their interest. It is vital that they start out fishing where bites will be easy to come by. Catfish, bream, dart, whiting or what ever is common in your area is fine.
Hot Tip: When the kids get whiney, rather than say “ok, if you’re bored, lets go home”, take a break and then get back to it. Snack time is good, as is “10 minutes on the swings”.
Keep it about the kids!
Kids will no doubt make bad casts, fling the hook around, get snags and lose tackle, and probably drop the rod at least once. That’s okay, it’s expected!
Let your kids know they’re doing a great job, and show excitement, when things are going well. Their satisfaction comes as much from your reaction, as their catch success. If they do something wrong, explain it to them, and teach them how to do it right.
Hot tip: You will be busy casting, baiting and de-knotting line. Accept in advance that it’s a day for the kids to fish, not a day for you to fish.
Hot tip: The kids will have to go to the loo at least once if not more while you are out. Remind them to go before they get in the car and before you throw in the lines “whether they need to or not”. Pack your own toilet paper.
Teach them about conservation & nature!
You don’t need to be a tree-hugger to know how important the natural environment is.
If you bring fish home, teach them to only bring home what they can eat, and release the rest.
Make sure you clean up and take all your rubbish with you, and explain to the kids why.
Bring and use sunscreen and mossie repellent. Make sure the kids wear a hat. I also encourage my kids to wear sunnies and sunsafe clothing is a must. Make sure the kids drink lots of water (not fizzy drinks).
If you're on a boat, a properly fitted child’s life jacket (PFD) is a must. Even on shore, a floatation vest of some sort is a good idea for the very little ones.
Be strict about taking care with knives, hooks and swinging rod tips.
Hot Tip: Consider flattening the barb of the hook with a pair of pliers. It makes unhooking the fish easier, and also clothes, trees, siblings etc.
Get help if you need it.
There are heaps of resources to help you give your kids a love of fishing including free fishing clinics. Google “kids fishing clinics” and your town/city.
The Final Word!
The final word: Patience.
You will struggle to get the kids to follow your instructions, get huge birds nests, have kids tell you they need to go to the loo just after the lines are in the water and lose interest, whine and fight. Be ready for it. If you don’t think you can handle it, refer to point 7.
What to pack
When taking the kids fishing, in addition to the usual gear make sure you pack:
1. at least 1 extra kids rod/reel
3. kids’ hats & sunglasses
6. toilet paper
7. lots of snacks & lunch/dinner
8. Liquid hand sanitiser
Follow these few simple guidelines and you are sure to have a great day.
This is an abridged version of an article by Stevo Perry, which first appeared in leading Australian online fishing magazine, FishMax.com.au.
FishMax is the place for Aussie fishermen and women to get great fishing tips, read celebrity fisher interviews, win fishing prizes, laugh at fishing jokes and much more. Take a minute to visithttp://www.fishmax.com.au/ right now!