These tricks and tips will help make sure your next fishing trip with kids goes great.
Family fishing trips are the stuff memories are made of. They help bring the entire family closer, cultivate teamwork, and offer valuable lessons about patience, persistence and overcoming challenges.
Fishing with kids can be a ton of fun whether it’s your first time and you’re learning together or a master angler imparting hard-earned knowledge. Just be sure to remember to approach the activity with an open mind and youthful spirit, and you might just discover a new family pastime.
The Basics of Teaching Kids to Fish
The golden rule of teaching kids to fish is to not get frustrated if their enthusiasm doesn’t match yours from the jump. We all know that kids, especially little ones, can have short attention spans; when they want to set the rod down, let them.
Instead of forcing the issue, spark their interest by nurturing their curiosity.
Start by giving them a dip net they can fill up with critters like minnow or crayfish. If your boat has an onboard livewell, it can become a touch-tank for introducing them to the sensory experience of handling aquatic wildlife safely, which is often the first step in getting kids...sorry, we have to say it...hooked.
Once they’re ready to cast a line, consider what sort of fish you want to target.
Going after the biggest bass in the lake might be fun for you, but it also requires lots of casting for only a little catching—not exactly a youngster's ideal day on the water. When the kids are on board, think about targeting sunfish instead. Sure, they’re smaller and less challenging to catch, but the patience-to-payoff ratio is far more likely to keep the kids engaged and motivated.
Prioritizing Safety on Family Fishing Trips
Naturally, all the usual boating safety rules apply when you go fishing, but fishing involves sharp objects, so some extra care is required.
Make sure that you keep all potentially dangerous items (like bait knives, hooks, and scissors) safely stowed away when they aren’t in use. Teach kids to always look over their shoulder to make sure no one’s behind them if they’ll be making a cast.
If you’re a serious angler, consider leaving lures with treble hooks at home or be sure to swap the trebles for single hooks. You might reel in less, but the same thing that makes treble hooks great for snagging fish also makes them a safety concern for small fingers. It’s better to gradually introduce novices to more sophisticated tackle as they skill up.
Also remember that fish and other critters are wild animals that should be handled with caution and respect.
The spiny dorsal fin on those sunfish can poke you in the hand, and toothy fish like walleye can break the skin if you get a finger too close to their mouths. So, it’s usually best for the adults on board to handle and un-hook the fish until the kids get some experience under their belts.
The main reason you got the boat in the first place was to put a smile on everyone’s face, right? If you’re fishing from a Bayliner boat that means you have plenty of options for keeping the kids entertained if the fish aren’t biting. When the fishing action is slow, let them go for a swim, tow them around on a tube, or kick back on deck with snacks and games until it’s time to get back to the pursuit.
So, are you ready to have some family fun on your fishing trip? We certainly hope so! Because once you get those kids hooked on fishing, they’ll want to go out on the boat even more than before.