Are you thinking about taking your kid(s) out fishing for the first time and needing a few tips from someone who’s been there and done that? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!
As a father who loves to fish, one of my biggest accomplishments was teaching my oldest daughter how to cast a spinning reel and catch one of her first fish. I can’t take credit for her catching her very first fish. That goes to her mother, who while on a mini family vacation to Tampa, Fl, picked up a Barbie Doll spincast reel, in which my little girl caught her very first sheepshead.
While teaching my kids how to fish was extremely rewarding, it was also very hard! I’m not gonna lie…it wasn’t easy!
In this article, I’ll give you a few tips for fishing with kids that have helped me along the way.
Tips For Fishing With Kids (And Newbies) For The First Time
1. Patience is King When Teaching Kids Fishing Skills
I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle when it comes to patience, which is kind of weird seeing how fishing requires a lot of it.
I never knew how much patience was needed until I took my 5-year-old daughter fishing with me for the first time!
I saw very quickly what my dad and uncles had to deal with all those years when they would take me fishing with them to the Skyway Bridge fishing pier. The neverending questions, the why this, the why that, the tangled lines, the “daddy can you help me put this bait on.”
Actually, I don’t think putting the live bait on was really ever a problem for me and to be honest, wasn’t a problem with my daughter either.
Anyways, my dad was and is an extremely patient man!
I had to learn this for myself!
I basically had to tell myself before each fishing trip that I would take her on that this wasn’t about me catching fish. It was about spending time with my daughter and trying to teach her the sport that I had come to love.
If your kids have a ton of questions, great! That means that they are interested.
You also have to remind yourself that they may never love fishing the way that you do and that’s okay too.
My daughter doesn’t go fishing with me all that much, but when she does, she knows how to cast a spinning reel, bait her own hook (for the most part), and reel in a fish when she catches one.
Oh, and don’t think that you have to take your kid with you every time you head out on the water. You still need time for yourself for doing some serious fishing, but just remember to make time for them as well.
2. Get Them Excited about Going Fishing
I’m sure you know what it’s like after you’ve saved some money for that brand new fishing reel that you’ve been dreaming of for months. You know, the one that’s going to help you catch more fish!
You can’t wait to get it out on the water!
If as a grown man you are acting like a kid with a new toy, just imagine how your kid will be if you take him to a Bass Pro Shop and buy them a new fishing rod and reel. Maybe even let them pick out a brand new hat and even let them pick out a few colorful lures that they are sure will catch the big one.
I’m not insinuating that you should bribe your kids into learning how to fish, or saying that you have to buy them brand new fishing gear. I’m just pointing out how “we fishermen” act when we get something new.
Also, if you don’t want them using your $200 Shimano, it might be a good idea to spring for a $25 dollar rod and reel.
3. Ease Them Into It
The first time that you take your kid fishing shouldn’t be on an all-day marathon! Kids attention spans are not as good as ours and they can quickly lose interest in things, especially if there’s nothing going on, like waiting for fish to bite.
For a first time fishing trip, I would say no more than a couple of hours is good. That is of course unless you see that they are having the time of their lives.
Also, don’t go waking them up at no 5 am just to show them what time a “real fisherman” wakes up to go fishing. Remember, this is about them and not you!
4. Make Sure They Catch Fish
A kid’s first fishing trip shouldn’t be on the flats chasing reds or on the lake learning how to cast spinnerbaits for largemouth bass. While that may be exciting for you, it may be a little overwhelming for a 5-year-old, especially if you don’t catch anything.
My advice would be to take them to a nearby pond or fishing pier and make sure to bring along some live bait.
This will ensure that they will catch something, even if it’s just a small bream or saltwater catfish.
They don’t care what kind of fish it is, all they care about is that they caught something.
5. Don’t Push Them Too Hard
As much as you may want them to someday be your wingman on the boat, they are not going to be it on their first day! Heck, they may not ever be it, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t enjoy spending time on the water with them.
The quickest way that you can discourage a kid when you are trying to teach them how to fish is to push them too hard. It is imperative that you are able to lower your expectations, otherwise, it’s not going to be much fun for them or you.
With that being said, if they really want to learn how to fish, then they will have to eventually take it a little more seriously – just not on the first day.
6. Bring Plenty of Snacks and Drinks
If you’re like me, when it comes to fishing, I can go all day long without eating or drinking anything other than a few sips of water, just to keep me from passing out.
When taking kids fishing, you can’t expect them to do the same. Make sure that you pack a cooler full of their favorite snacks as well as some Capri Suns and bottled water.
Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of room in your cooler for the beer.
7. Let Them Reel in a Fish
One of the most exciting things about fishing is reeling in a fish! However, one of the more harder things about fishing (especially when learning) is being able to detect a bite and set the hook.
Unless you get lucky and the fish hooks itself, chances are, you’re not gonna be reeling anything.
If your kid hasn’t caught anything after 20 minutes or so, hook a fish for them and let them reel it in by themselves.
This will ensure that they have a good time and they will be much more likely to want to go with you again.
8. Leave Your Fishing Pole at Home
I learned this tip after my first fishing trip with my daughter. Even though I had programmed myself that this was about her catching fish and not me, I still had a hard time giving her my full attention.
I even found myself getting aggravated with her because I had to stop what I was doing in order to help her out.
After that trip, I started leaving my fishing gear at home in order to avoid any type of temptation. Also, by not having your gear, you are less likely to want and stay longer than you probably should in order to catch the keeper that you were hoping for.
Remember that kids are smarter than we grown-ups think! They will see real fast that you are more concerned about catching fish than you are spending time with them so that they might catch a fish and will lose interest fast.
9. Make Sure to Bring Your Phone
No, I’m not talking about in case you get an important call from work! In fact, if this is your idea, then just leave it at home or turn the ringer off.
I suggest bringing your phone because it’s the most convenient way to get pictures and video of you and your kids time together.
Kids grow up way too fast!
Always make sure that you have something to capture the memories so that you have them forever.
This is another good reason to leave your fishing gear at home!
10. Plan for The Weather
Nothing is worse than planning your first fishing trip with your kid, only to have it rain, or have a cold front push through on the day of the trip.
I can tell you from first-hand experience as a kid, this is a huge letdown!
After shopping for a new rod and reel, planning where you’re going and talking about the trip for weeks, having to cancel on the day of is a huge disappointment!
This can be easily avoided if you just plan ahead. Also, it might be a good idea not to tell your kid about the trip until a couple of days before. This allows you to monitor the weather right up until the last minute, increasing your chances of picking a good day to go fishing.
11. Dress Your Kids Appropriately
This sort of goes hand in hand with planning for the weather. If there is a chance of for rain, make sure that you have rain gear, so that you can still fish. As long as the rain is minimal and there is no lightning, kids don’t care about a little rain.
The same goes for those hot summer and cold winter days. If it’s going to be a scorcher, make sure that they have proper protection from the sun, including a long sleeve performance fishing shirt, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen.
On the flip side, if it’s going to be a little on the chilly side, make sure they are dressed in layers just in case they have to take some clothing or put more on in case the weather changes.
The key is to try and make them as comfortable as possible so that they have the best fishing experience possible.
12. Make Sure There Are Restrooms Nearby
Kids are unlike you and me in that they can’t and shouldn’t have to hold it in for too long! And I don’t care if they use it before you leave the house, they are going to have to go again.
If the park or fishing pier that you plan on going to doesn’t have restrooms, then try and choose a location that is close to a gas station, fast food restaurant, or grocery store.
If this is not possible, then you will need to at least bring a bucket, trash bags, and toilet paper, along with sanitary wipes.
Even better, it might be a good idea to invest in a portable potty.
The last thing that you want is to have to cut your trip short in order to drive 20 miles to the closest restroom.
13. Start Taking Your Kids Fishing at an Early Age
If you really want your kids to take to fishing, then start teaching them as soon as possible, even if they are too young to actually cast the rod or reel in a fish.
By exposing them at a young age, they are more likely to stick with it and eventually come to love it. Now, this doesn’t guarantee anything, but the odds are definitely in your favor!
I introduced both my girls to a rod and reel at around 2 years old, although my oldest didn’t actually start really being able to handle the fishing pole herself until she was around 5 years old.
Teaching your kids how to fish is one of the most satisfying things that you can do as a father and in some cases, as a mother.
While fishing is extremely fun, there are other lessons and skills that kids can learn other than how to reel in a fish.
Fishing can teach anyone a wide range of life lessons, including patience, environmental awareness, respect for our laws, persistence, and determination to name a few.
If you have any tips that have helped you in teaching your kids how to fish, please share them with us in the comments section below.