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Teaching Kids To Fish

By Craig Ritchie - April 13, 2022
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that nothing beats family time enjoying the outdoors. Spending time out on the water with your kids teaches them patience, it teaches them about the importance of wild spaces and clean environments, and it teaches them important values and responsibilities that carry through to everyday life. There is no downside to instilling your children with a love of the outdoors, and spring is the perfect time to get started.
Many anglers find their kids become their best fishing partners.
But taking the kids fishing is one thing - helping them develop a passion for it is a whole other matter. That's why it's so important to plan an introduction to fishing specifically with the kids in mind.

Keep It Fun

The most important thing to remember when you teach your kids to fish, especially at first, is to make it their day - not yours. Let them set the schedule. If they get bored and decide they want to go catch frogs instead, then let them go catch frogs. Forcing them to fish after they've grown tired of it will only turn them away from fishing, perhaps for good. Fishing should be fun, not a test of endurance.

It's also important to keep outings short. It never takes long for children to get bored and tired. Most simply aren't up to a full day of fishing, at least to start. So keep outings short and leave them wanting more.

Forget about the species you prefer to catch and focus on species that will guarantee plenty of action like perch, sunfish, crappies and chubs. Kids aren't worried about catching big, fish, but plenty of activity is critically important.

Keep outings short and make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand so kids will want to go fishing again and again.
The old KISS rule - Keep It Simple, Stupid - really applies to teaching children to fish. Make it simple, using worms, waxworms or small minnows under a little float. Children enjoy visual stimulation, and watching a float provides that. Use smaller, more sensitive quill floats that panfish can haul right under with ease, so there's plenty of visual stimulation.

Teaching your kids how to cast and how to handle a fishing rod is a great bonding exercise, but let them learn at their own pace. If they're having trouble, then share roles - you do the casting, and let them take care of reeling in the fish. They will eventually pick up the nuances of casting if you keep the focus on the fun part.

Remember - They're Kids

Kids are fascinated by natural things, and just playing with the worms or watching a bucketful of minnows swim around in the bait bucket can be great fun for younger anglers. When you catch a fish, put it in the bucket too, so they can watch it swim around as well.

It's also important to bring along plenty of snacks and drinks. Always take the time to munch on some cookies or have a pop. Children get hungry and thirsty more quickly than adults do, so make sure you're well stocked so they can snack as they please. Wrap up your morning of fishing by going for breakfast somewhere, to make it even more of an adventure.

Fishing teaches children patience, and about the value of clean natural environments.
Finally, make sure you pack a change of dry clothes for them, and a towel. Kids playing around the water always seem to have fun, and always manage to wind up thoroughly drenched.

Some of your best conversations you'll ever share with your children will come when you're in the boat or on the bank of some little pond or stream, fishing. In the outdoors they can relax and enjoy themselves without the distractions of the cartoons, the Internet or video games. Fishing is one time when you have their undivided attention, so make the most of it. Those hours spent fishing together when they're young form the foundation for stronger relationships that will benefit them - and you - in later life.

Author Craig Ritchie
Craig Ritchie
Over a near 40-year career as a full-time outdoor writer, Craig Ritchie has fished all over the globe for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species. The author of The Complete Guide To Getting Started In Fishing, he has written thousands of articles for magazines, websites and newspapers worldwide, appeared as a guest on several television fishing programs and won numerous awards for his writing and photography. He lives in the Great Lakes region where great fishing is as close as his own back yard.
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