Fishing is one of the most enjoyable of outdoor activities and a chance for humans to experience a time when ancestors needed to catch their food. With today’s advanced tackle, you and your family can sample the challenge of outwitting fish, and release them back to their native waters or prepare enough for a delicious meal.
When my daughter was 13-years-old, we embarked on a month-long trip across the West by car. Although the trunk was packed with clothes, I made sure there was room enough for fishing tackle, including a couple of easy-to-cast rods & reels. We ended up at Mammoth Lake in California just as the ice was breaking in early July. I reasoned that an entry stream would contain trout and we had a great catch. A local restaurant prepared them and it was a memorable feast.
Many campgrounds have a fishing option on the property or nearby, and many states do not require a license for children to fish, although be sure to check online before your trip. Fishing is a gender-neutral activity and hobby families can embrace for a lifetime of adventure. Ready to give fishing a try? Here are some tips for engaging your youngsters for a fabulous fishing trip.
Fishing Tips for Beginners
- Safety First– Every child needs to learn to swim and it’s the adult’s responsibility to see that they learn. Never leave a child alone at the water’s edge and be sure your kids wear life jackets as a precaution. Fortunately, flotation devices are made to fit children and won’t restrict their fun near the water.
Develop Fishing Skills in Advance- Fishing is fun, but it also requires some skill to be successful. Before heading to the water, make sure that youngsters know how their gear works. Casting a sinker into a hula-hoop or bucket is somewhat like basketball or hockey. It’s great fun and allows children to develop skills with no hooks involved. They will want to learn about various lures and baits and how to tie knots. In keeping with #1 above, explain how to cast safely when others are close by.
- Prepare for sun and bugs. Wearing jeans or trousers helps reduce bug bites and protects against poison ivy. Spray boots, shoes, and pants with Promethean to ward off ticks and use Deet products for mosquitoes. Spraying the bill of a cap will keep mosquitoes and gnats away from a child’s face without putting repellant on their skin. Whether you’re fishing on a cloudy or sunny day, remember the sunscreen.
- Keep fishing simple. It’s often not necessary to fish in the deepest water or far from shore. A farm pond is a perfect place to learn to fish because the banks are usually not deep and bass and bluegill spawn in the shallow water and defend their nests. Natural bait such as nightcrawlers, mealworms, and grasshoppers are very productive. A bobber provides a visual aspect and makes fish easier to catch.
- Cast away. Thumb-pressure casting reels are among the easiest to use and ideal for new anglers. You want a rod that’s about the height of the user, 10-pound test monofilament line and a hook or swivel for changing artificial lures. Teach your child to reel in the line while allowing 6-10 inches of line beyond the tip. Press the “hold” button on the reel until the cast is halfway complete, release the reel brake and the line will fly toward it’s intended target. It’s easiest to do side-arm, but safest to do overhead.
- Keep or Put Back? Catch-and-release is a good conservation method in many fisheries, except farm ponds. Most small impoundments quickly become overcrowded and fish growth becomes stunted. Be sure to ask the landowner, but most will allow you to keep bluegills and some bass. Teaching children to catch their food is a great life lesson and learning to prepare them even better.