Fishing with Kids

A day at the lake with the kids is a wonderful, memory making opportunity to share your love of fishing with the next generation. The length and details of the trip will depend on the ages of the kids involved, but most young children can handle an hour or two of fishing. Kids should also be involved in various aspects of the preparation and planning of your trip. While it is always fun to bring friends along, a good rule of thumb when fishing with young children under the age of 7 is to have a “one adult per child” ratio.

Safety: Small children should wear age appropriate flotation devices and, no matter how much experience they have, basic boating or dock safety should be reviewed before every trip. Make sure to pack items such as water, nutritious snacks, sunscreen, a towel, fishing gear and fishing license, insect repellent, a compass and a first aid kit. It is advisable to let someone know where you are headed, and the approximate time you will return so that rescue personnel can find you in the event of any unforeseen emergencies. You may want to consider packing a child sized porta-potty if restroom facilities will not be available.

Clothing: Children should wear closed-toe shoes and pants, and bring a hat, sweatshirt, rain poncho and, if needed, a swimsuit. 

Fishing Gear: Very young children with short attention spans will do well with cheap, children’s fishing poles. But if you plan on repeated trips, and for older children, it pays to invest in a good, five foot ultra-light rod and reel. Ask your local sporting goods store to recommend a spool of fishing line in the two to four pound test for easier casting and to avoid tangles. For fly fishing, you’ll need a fly rod, line and some artificial flies.

Casting: Whether fishing from a boat or the dock, instruction in basic casting techniques is important so kids become familiar with the danger of injuries from hooks. Since a cast is often as individual as a baseball or golf swing, it is a good idea to practice away from groups of people while they are learning to accurately cast. A light sinker instead of a hook is perfect for practice. Spin cast tackle might be a good choice for new fisher-kids and younger children and helps avoid frustration (yours and theirs) over tangles. For fly fish, many young children under the age of ten are able to learn how to fish but it is best to avoid moving water until they get the hang of the cast.

Bait:  Catching fish with live bait, such as worms, work best if the bait is no bigger than the hook size. 

Pond, Lake or Stream: Finding a fishing spot close to home may be a challenge, depending on where you live. An ideal spot for children is somewhere that isn’t too crowded and hopefully, in water that is full of fish.

Have Fun: The most important thing about fishing with kids is that it is stress free and fun. It is a great time to ask questions, learn more about your kids and share special stories with them.

Finally, check with your state Fish and Game Agency. They can answer questions about the fishing season and limits on the size and/or number of fish you can catch.

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