I receive a lot of phone calls from parents seeking advice on taking their kids fishing. After talking on the phone for a while, we then either seta date around the bite or make a plan to just go fishing and have some fun for a day. As “adults” we know what our children want, right? Well maybe sometimes!
One thing I believe is that starting kids out fishing at an early age is a great idea. It creates a common bond that will hopefully be shared by you and your kids for a lifetime. Fishing also helps keep everyone out of trouble; coming home late for dinner because the fish were biting, doesn’t qualify as trouble.
One of the first questions I ask the parent is, “How old is the child you are taking?” Younger kids love to fish, but they generally don’t care to do so for very long, nor do they enjoy a long car ride to the fishing hole. The key to fishing with kids is to work within their attention span. A 3 to 5 year old child might be willing to fish for 15 minutes or so if the fish are not biting, maybe an hour if the fish are biting. However, a 15 year old might fish 12 hours even when the fish are not biting.
When I take youngsters fishing, I try to make the trip “a journey,” recognizing that the actual fishing is just a pit stop on the way. The day starts with a planning session where I enlist the help of my clients in preparing for the trip. The day is all about my clients needs and special consideration is given to what will work best for the junior anglers. If their skill set requires worms and a bobber, then that’s what we do. If they can pitch a jig or if they like to troll cranks then we’ll utilize some of those more advanced techniques. I never plan on catching fish. It’s more about helping kids learn to cast, reel, and set the hook.
I do whatever it takes to get them hooked and want to go again! Then we load up the Crestliner and the fun starts!
I try to pay close attention to my little buddies’ attitude. When they are into fishing, that’s awesome! When they are done fishing, we leave and do something else besides fishing. A few years ago I took a couple of my nephews out fishing. The fish were not cooperating, so we spent a couple hours trying to “sink” the bobber with rocks. Another trip, we decided to fish in a park that had a playground. We spent most of that day playing on the swings, slides, and in the sandboxes. On other trips we have also learned to catch crawdads, frogs, tadpoles, and even a couple snakes! Enjoying the outdoors and exploring nature is a great way to keep kids interested in fishing. Today, my nephews look forward to fishing with Uncle Bernie every chance they get, and we still make time to catch a few amphibious critters every now and then.
Whenever I take kids fishing I plan on getting dirtier and wetter than them. They want to explore everything and this just gives me an excuse, as if I needed one, to be a kid again. Let’s face it, being the grown-up is not always the fun way to live. However, when you are outside with children, you don’t always have to be “that guy.” Live in the moment and try to view the world through your kids’ eyes. You’ll be amazed how much you will learn too. A quick stop for ice cream or some other treat on the way home seals the deal. Rest assured everyone will want to go again next time. Heck, who knows, we might even catch a fish! Remember, it’s not about the fishing; it’s about a day with your kids that’s bound to create unforgettable memories and a lasting bond.