Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taking Kids Fishing

One of my favorite things in the world is to see a child's face light up with joy after catching their first fish. It doesn't matter if it's a big fish or not. That first fish is a memory that lasts a lifetime. Over the years , I've been lucky enough to help a lot of kids catch their first fish and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Today I'd like to share a few tips to make your next trip with your young ones more enjoyable.

First , buy them a good rod and reel. Some may disagree with this , but I feel it is one of the most important things you can do for a child who is interested in fishing. By purchasing a good quality reel you save the child and yourself a great deal of frustration. I always try to think about whether or not I would use the rod and reel , if it's not good enough for me it certainly isn't good enough for my son. I recommend something similar to a Shakespeare Ugly Stik 6' MH casting rod with a Zebco 33. This combo can stand up to a lot of abuse and is capable of handling most fish.

Second , get them involved! This has to be age appropriate  , but let the child do as much as they are capable of doing safely. Younger children may be content to just reel in the fish , but as they get older they will be more interested in the whole process. Most kids will feel so accomplished when they have caught a fish that they baited , cast to and set the hook on by themselves. There are so many learning opportunities for children who like to fish. Everything from tying simple knots to learning about conservation by practicing catch and release can be great ways to introduce your child to the amazing things that happen underwater. Just be patient and explain the why's and how's in detail to them , you'll be surprised by how fast they learn.

Third , fish for whatever is biting. Children aren't picky. I've seen first time fisherman of all ages get just as excited about catching a small Spot as many seasoned anglers do after catching a trophy sized fish. This will also fend off boredom. Most kids won't stick with it if there aren't any fish being caught. Let your child dictate the pace and duration of the fishing trip. When they get tired and cranky it's time to go home. Keeping them out when they are tired of fishing usually makes everyone miserable.

Last , but most important , have fun! That's the whole purpose of taking kids fishing. Take lots of pictures so you'll always have something to remember these special times. Fishing can be a great way to spend time with your children and get them outside for fresh air and exercise. Be sure to take plenty of snacks and cold drinks and be sure to use sunscreen. Enjoy the time on the water with your little ones , they grow up too fast!

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