Fishing with Kids - Pass the TorchBy Mike McQuitty - April 1, 2006
After that first fish, it is our responsibility as sportsmen and women, parents and mentors, to keep the interest brewing. Having kids myself helped me stroll through the mine field of what to do and what not to do as far as keeping kids interested in fishing.
In my humble opinion, they are as follows:
- Start them out at a young age. Every child is different, but 2 years olds seems like a good starting point. Show them fish in an aquarium and watch fishing shows on TV. Expose them to pictures and walk along lakeshores and piers and feed the fish. Most of all, show your excitement towards the fish.
- Start them out slow. Go for pan fish with bobbers and live bait. First take them along to the local lake or pond and let them watch you catch fish. Show them and let them touch the fish. Release the fish and have them watch the fish swim away. At this point I wouldn't traumatize the child with gutting and filleting, quite yet. Again, show your excitement and positive outlook towards fishing.
- Don't let the kids get bored. I don't care how good the fish are biting, if you feel the kids are loosing interest, take a break. Go to lunch, catch some frogs, go swimming, do something else.
- Buy them their own equipment. At about 4 years old, kids can become apt at casting small kid's spin cast equipment. Hopefully the excitement of receiving their own equipment will parlay itself to the water. Have them practice in the back yard a few times. Don't over practice, this isn't boot camp. If they show signs of boredom, take a break.
- After they get the hang of casting, take them out on a nice day to a local lake or pond and catch pan fish with live bait. Worms are in my opinion the best to get started with. Let them touch the worms; even if it makes a mess. Kids are washable. Bring handi-wipes if you are really concerned about clean hands. Important note: don't let them mill around in your tackle box if there are exposed hooks, obviously this could put a damper on the day.
- If you are out in a boat, practice safety. Even if you a little careless when you are out with the guy's, now is not the time. Wear your life jackets.
- If you're in a boat, fish shallow. There is plenty of aquatic life on shore and next to the boat to keep a child's interest, look for frogs, turtles and ducks. Deep weed lines get old quick.
- Finally, the tip I'm guilty of, don't lose your temper or over discipline while out fishing. This is supposed to be fun for you as well as the children. Negativity has lasting effects on the child's future interest in the sport.
So, let's briefly recap some of the Don'ts:
- Don't force feed fishing
- Don't let them get bored
- Don't be negative or lose your temper
- Don't break them in on trophy game fish, stick with pan fish
- Don't fish deep weed lines - stick to the shore and shallow areas
- Don't forget their short attention span, take frequent breaks
Today's day and age poses many challenges for kids. There are too many negative influences out there. Give children a positive outlet. Take a kid fishing - Pass the torch and keep this age old tradition going for generations to come.
See you on the water!