Children are naturally curious about fish and water. Seeing a fish in a book, fish in a tank, or seeing fish swim in shallow water can send any child into another level of excitement. How often does a child not like fish? In my experiences, almost never. Just like many little boys like going to see a dinosaur exhibit at a museum, most kids are interested in fish.
As a parent, friend or mentor, if you feel a little overwhelmed about the idea of taking a child fishing, don’t worry, it isn’t as difficult as you might think. A little bit of research can help your chance of having a successful trip together (successful doesn’t mean catching fish). Here are some suggestions to help prepare you for a successful trip.
Find Out Where to Go and What to Use For Bait
- Find some fishing equipment you will be able to use. Borrow from friends, local fishing groups, or use some gear you have laying around. You can also find some very cheap rods at places like WalMart.
- Talk with friends or local bait shop owners about places you can take a child fishing. Let them know you are planning on taking a child and ask for their best recommendations about where to go for the best chances of catching some panfish.
- While visiting a local bait shop, ask them the preferred bait to use and the size. They will be glad to help point you in the right direction. Generally, you will want to buy small worms, some small hooks (about size 6, 8 or 10), some sinkers/splitshot, and some round bobbers (bobbers about the diameter of a nickel or quarter).
Before You Leave Your Home
- Bring snacks and toys along with you. Children do get bored easily, and if the fish aren’t biting, you will want a backup plan. Planning on having a picnic lunch can make your fishing experience better as well.
- Let the child know that you are hoping to catch fish, but that the fish don’t always bite. Sometimes the fish aren’t hungry. It’s never a guarantee.
- Find some pictures of fish you will be trying to catch and show them to your child to help build the child’s interest before you go fishing. Talking about the pictures of the fish will help keep your child interested while travelling in the car, or while sitting on shore.
- Bring a bucket along for any fish you catch. A five gallon bucket will work well.
At the Lake
- As the grown up, you will need to take charge and help set up the fishing poles.
- Involve the child with as much as they can handle, but don’t overwhelm them. The goal is to keep them happy and make it a pleasureable experience. Let them hold the fishing pole, reel it in, and even help put the worms on the hook if they are willing. Don’t be afraid to assist them whenever they need the help.
- If a fish starts to pull their bobber down, get excited and let them know what’s happening. This is one of the most exciting parts of fishing. As a grown up, I still get excited when my bobber goes down.
- Help take the fish off the hook if they are scared to touch the fish. Beware of fins as they can poke you or your child and scare them from fishing. Encourage the kids to touch the fish while you hold the fish. To a child, it is a thrilling experience to see new animals, and it can be even more exciting to actually touch them.
- Place the fish in a bucket of water so the kids can see the fish swimming around. This will help keep them interested while the fish aren’t pulling down your bobbers. If the fish shows signs that it isn’t going to live much longer, let the fish go and say your farewells.
Finishing a Fun Fishing Trip With a Child
All children are different and some of them may not want to be there very long. This is alright. The overall goal is to make the best of your time together and everything they enjoy is a benefit. The last thing you want to do is force fishing on a child. It should be fun for everyone and by following the plans layed out above, you should have a great time. Take some time now to start planning your next fishing trip with a child. It will be a memory they will have for a lifetime and hopefully give them a hobby they can enjoy for a lifetime.