Fishing with Children

A couple days ago my wife mentioned to me that our nephew had been wanting to go fishing, but had never been before.  That got me thinking about fishing, especially with children.  The temperature outside right now is around eight degrees, at least it was when I got home.  While ice fishing is a sport in its own right, it may not appeal as much to younger fishers, especially those without prior experience. 

I grew up fishing, hiking, camping, hunting and pretty much anything else I could do that was outdoors.  I have many fond memories of catching fish with my dad and grandfather.  In fact I still fish every summer with my grandfather.  But fishing can be both fun and to many, very boring.  So how to you get kids interested and keep them interested in fishing?

I am the kind of fisherman that will keep at it for as long as possible.  If I am not catching anything I tell myself that I need to keep fishing until I catch something.  When I do catch something I always want a few more casts to try and catch the next one.  Unfortunately kids and even my wife, rarely have the same level of interest or attention span that I do for it.  That brings me to my first tip for kids:

Keep them interested!

Your child is not going to have the same ability to concentrate that you might.  If the fish are biting they may stay interested longer, but eventually they will start to lose interest.  Snacks and meals are always good for helping to keep kids interested.  Once they have a break to eat and drink something, they will no longer concentrate on being hungry and they might be able to focus a little longer once they are done. 

Keep it fun!

Fishing can be exciting when the fish are biting and dull when they are not.  And if you are feeling like that imagine how much more your kids think so.  If the fish start to bite try to make sure your kids are at the water, rods ready to go to take part in the action.  When the bite slows down, let them play along the shore or back away from the water.  Just make sure you keep an eye on them as water can be very dangerous for smaller kids.  My son likes to throw rocks in the water, which I loved when I was younger too.  I usually ask him to walk a few yards away from me to reduce the chance of scaring fish, but really as long as he is enjoying himself it doesn't really matter if I catch any fish.

Specific tackle for your children.

There are different ways to get your child started with fishing.  An older child may just borrow your equipment, while younger children may benefit from equipment designed for them.  One day while fishing with my grandfather on his boat, my daughter threw her Dora the Explorer over board while trying to cast.  She had cast many times with out letting go of the pole and of course she lets go one of the few times we are in the middle of the lake.  I had assumed that the rod was long gone as she broke out crying harder than she normally would.  To my surprise when I looked back behind the boat I saw the tip of the rod's handle bobbing up and down in the waves.  We backed the boat up and I learned that her rod had just enough bouyancy to float.  Had she not been using a rod designed for a young child it would have been lost to the bottom of the lake.

Know when to quit!

This is probably the hardest one for me.  As I mentioned before I like to keep fishing and fishing until I run out of light, or those that are with me drag me away from the water.  The key to helping your children enjoy fishing is to keep it fun.  If they have to stay long after the point of boredom, they will come away from the trip with a negative impression.  Especially with younger children it is important to look for signs from your kids that they are done.  If they are taking breaks from the fishing and don't seem interested in fishing, even when they're biting, it may be time to leave.  Gradually your kids will be interested in longer and longer fishing trips, until one day they may be just as interested as you are.

These were some quick thoughts about getting your child interested in fishing and hopefully keeping them interested.  Please let me know what you think and feel free to share any tips you might have.


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