7 Tips to Getting Kids to Love Fishing

Three generations, my dad, me, and my son on my boat fishing.

I started fishing as a kid when I was 4 years old on the beaches of Southern California. I remember the sand, the waves, the little spinning rod (well, it didn’t seem so little then), the Carolina rigs, and the perch we caught. I also remember loving those fishing trips, not because of any of that other stuff, but because it was something my dad and I could look forward to all week. Of course I grew to love the fishing tremendously, but even today fishing is about more than catching fish. Fast forward a handful of decades and now my own son is almost ready to head out fishing with me on those same beaches and Ive been thinking about the things I am going to do in the hopes that he grows to love fishing too.

65% of our readers also got started fishing or hunting with their mom and/or dad. If you include people who started fishing with another family member or friend that number goes up to almost 85%. Chances are, as a fishermen, at some point you will introduce a kid to fishing and the potential impact you can have on that tiny human is endless. Here are 7 tips to get you started.

Play Fishing

Wooden fishing toy for kids to get inspired about fishing

Before your child is old enough to hit the water for real, make fishing a popular game in the house. There are loads of magnetic fishing games where kids can simulate the thrill of a fish on the line. There are toy rods with functioning reels and even toy fly rods! Making fishing part of play time will make it a seamless transition for the youngster when it is time to try out the real thing.

Talk it Up

When it is time to plan an actual trip, start talking about it in advance. Let the kid know it is a special activity and that you are excited about it too. Discuss the details like where you are going, what fish you are targeting, will you keep them, what kind of bait/lures etc… These conversations will help build excitement and also give them some knowledge to build on.

Short/Simple

Short simple kids fishing trip fishing from shore

 

For the first few outings the trips should be short and simple. Build up slowly to longer trips. Make sure that the amount of time that passes from leaving the house to starting to fish is as short as possible. For kids under 5 years old 30 minutes might be the max travel time before they lose interest. Once you start fishing the clock is ticking again, don’t be disappointed if they lose interest quickly it doesn’t mean they didn’t have fun. Be prepared to go with the flow and don’t make them fish longer than they want. Also, make sure the style of fishing is simple. Throwing flies is probably too ambitious, so is hooking live bait. Give them the option to do everything themselves, teach them how, but be happy to bait the hook or cast the lure for the youngest anglers. In other words, YOU aren’t going to do much fishing on this fishing trip.

Catch Fish!

Father and son fishing, dad is helping his kid land a fish

Target fish that are plentiful and not too difficult to catch. Panfish are a great choice! Kids will appreciate the immediate reward after you have built up the trip in their minds, and it will keep them coming back. They wont have the same appreciation as we do for trading patience for larger fish or better game species.

Weather

Kids will be put off by being too cold, too hot, wet, and generally uncomfortable. This may seem counter intuitive, I’ve seen plenty of kids jumping in muddy puddles and throwing a fit when they have to stop. But when an activity requires focus or patience suddenly environmental factors are a concern. Also, the first fishing trip isn’t a good time to find out if your son or daughter gets seasick! Stay on land if you are not sure.

Snacks

Healthy snacks to keep young anglers energetic

If everything is going well and your young fishing partner is catching fish and having fun you better have some snacks. Keeping your crew fed and hydrated will make for a longer and more enjoyable day. Bring healthy, high energy snacks to make the most out of the snack breaks.

Appropriate Gear

Small spinning rod perfect for kids to start out with

Kids will do best with a spinning rod 5 ft or less, paired with a small spinning reel loaded with 2-6 lb line. Don’t get a character themed toy rod, invest in small size actual fishing gear because the quality will be much better and it will last trip after trip. But selecting appropriate gear doesn’t end with the rod and reel. Use lures that are easy to cast and retrieve or bait and bobber. Make sure you have kid friendly sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, seating, and safety equipment.

Just remember to have fun. Enjoy being with each-other and don’t have any expectations.

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