By Patrick Morrow, Taking the Kids Contributor
Modern families certainly aren’t at a loss for things to do. From nature hikes to amusement parks, parents have a number of options for entertaining the kids during weekends and summer vacation. But there’s one great option that has been popular for decades, yet often goes overlooked: fishing.
There are few better and healthier ways to put a smile on your kids’ faces and make plenty of memories than by spending a morning or afternoon on the water. But, if you want your kids to enjoy the experience as much as possible, you’ll want to embrace a few tips and tricks while introducing them to the sport.
Five of the most important tips include:
1. Make sure your kids have the right equipment.
A lot of parents make the mistake of handing their child a hand-me-down rod that is intended for adults, who have more experience. This typically leads to an afternoon spent untangling lines, freeing snagged hooks and dealing with frustrated youngsters. Instead, provide your kids with age- and size-appropriate gear. A 5- to 6-foot-long spinning or spincasting combo is perfect.
2. Select a kid-friendly fishing location.
Selecting a good fishing location for your kids means picking a place that has plenty of fish and ample room for them to cast without fear of hitting overhanging trees or bystanders. A low-traffic beach or fishing pier will work well, but a boat is perhaps the best possible option if you have one available. It’s also a good idea to select a location with a bathroom whenever fishing with kids.
3. Target easy-to-catch species.
It is important to ensure your kids have a good chance of getting nibbles, otherwise, they’ll grow bored quickly. This means ignoring many of the high-profile gamefish, such as bass, trout or walleye, and targeting easier species to catch. Different regions present different fishing opportunities, so you’ll need to target those species that are available in your area. However, most parts of the US have bluegill or catfish, which make great targets for young anglers.
4. Fish alongside your kids.
You’ll have plenty to do when teaching your kids to fish; you’ll need to bait hooks, untangle lines and provide advice throughout the day. But, because you’re more likely to catch fish than they are, it is a good idea to fish alongside your kids. This will give you the chance to pass your rod to one of your kids when you get a fish hooked. This will allow them to reel in the fish themselves, which is sure to put a smile on their face.
5. Be sure that everyone has the necessary licenses and permits.
You don’t want to spoil your day on the water by receiving a ticket from a law enforcement officer, so make sure that you follow all relevant laws and regulations when fishing. Fishing regulations differ from one state to the next, and many water bodies have their own rules in place, so you’ll need to research the local laws and obtain any permits or licenses necessary. You’ll almost always need a license yourself, but most kids under 15 or 16 years of age are allowed to fish without one. Additionally, many states have “free fishing” days, in which licenses are not necessary.
Just follow the tips above and you’ll surely have a great day on the water with your kids. Just be sure to keep a positive attitude and take lots of photos while teaching your kids the ins and outs of fishing
Patrick Morrow is an avid angler, camper and all-around outdoorsman. He was introduced to the outdoors and fishing early on, fishing for bream at his home lake when he was four years old. Now, decades later, Patrick has managed to visit many rivers and lakes across the country, and gain a broad fishing background, having tried fly, surf, and off-shore fishing, among others. When he is not fishing, he is a freelance author and editor for Outdoorempire.com.