Whether you are looking for things to do with kids or find yourself eager to teach your kids how to fish, fishing is a great outdoor family-friendly activity that everyone can enjoy. If you are here, then you probably have some questions about how to prepare for your first fishing trip with kids.
When it comes down to it, you want to make sure that your kids have fun. To help make that happen, we have put together some tips on how to introduce kids to fishing before you even take them out for their first fishing trip, what you need for a successful first fishing trip, and how you can teach kids how to safely cast and reel in their line.
How to Introduce Kids to Fishing
Although you might be eager to take your kids fishing, there are a few things to consider to make sure that everyone has a good time.
First, remember that kids have rather short attention spans. This means two things:
- You should plan for a short first fishing trip. Most kids are not going to be able to fish for an extended period of time. Kids tend to get bored quickly and need to be able to engage in different activities in order to keep their interest. For this reason, a first fishing trip with kids should be kept to about an hour.
- You should target a fish species that fosters more active fishing. It may be relaxing to toss a line and wait for the fish to bite, but kids need something to do or you will lose their attention. Choose a fish and a location that will give you frequent bites so your kids can stay busy.
Second, understand that your kids might not show immediate interest in fishing. Everyone has different likes and interests, so if you want to encourage your kids to take an interest in fishing, you should start by introducing them to it slowly. Rather than jumping right into fishing by taking them on their first fishing trip, try to build up to it. You can do this by first taking them to visit nearby rivers or lakes and walking around, pointing out and talking about nature, animals, and the water. This will draw their attention to where they are and, hopefully, help them engage with the idea of going fishing.
Another way to talk to them about fishing before you plan a trip is through books and videos. You can try reading books about fishing, or even just different types of fish, or you can find videos online about these same topics. As you read or watch, talk to your kids about what you are viewing. By introducing them to fishing before you take them out, they will be more comfortable with the activity.
Third, try to be patient. Even if your kids quickly get bored on their first fishing trip or do not show the interest you hoped to see, give them time. Forcing a kid into an activity they are not ready for can have the opposite effect of what you want. Allow them to have the time they need to get used to the idea of going fishing or to show interest in going fishing before you plan your fishing trip.
What You Need for a First Fishing Trip with Kids
After you have decided on a target fish and know where you will be fishing them, you can think about everything that you need to bring for your fishing trip. A lot of what you pack will be the same whether you go fishing with or without kids. For example, you will always need rods, reels, lures, bait, a fishing first aid kit, food, and drinks. However, what you choose to fulfill each of these needs might change when you go fishing with kids.
You should pack these supplies for your first fishing trip:
- Snacks: To help keep your kids’ energy levels up be sure to bring some snacks. Some good options include juice boxes, granola bars, nuts, or cheese sticks, and always bring plenty of water.
- Gear: As your kids are learning how to fish, it helps to equip them with the right fishing gear. Reeling can get exhausting, especially for kids, so look for a lighter reel that you can put on a shorter rod.
- Attire: You kids will need to wear appropriate clothing that protects them from the weather and natural elements they will be in during your fishing trip. They should also wear a life jacket any time they are in, on, or around water.
- Fishing First Aid Kit: A medical first aid kit is a must-have for any fishing trip, and is even more important when you go fishing with kids. You want to make sure you have bandages, antiseptic wipes, and other supplies on hand to be ready to treat common fishing injuries. Accidents do happen even though you will teach your kids about fishing safety when teaching them how to cast and reel in their line.
- Breaks: To keep kids interested in fishing, be sure to take breaks. This will also help keep them from getting too tired from casting and reeling. During your breaks, you can drink water, have a snack, or talk about what you are doing. If you have live bait or a live well, encourage your kids to look at the fish. If it is safe to do so, you can also have them gently touch the fish to increase their connection to fishing.
- Patience: No matter how old your kids are, you will need to be patient. Your first fishing trip will probably have you baiting, fixing, casting, and reeling lines for your kids more than anything. Just remember that your first fishing trip with kids is about them enjoying the experience, so catching any fish is an exciting bonus!
How to Teach Kids to Fish
When kids are first learning how to fish, you may find that they easily get frustrated or lose their patience. Casting a fishing line is a skill that they will need to practice. To help them learn and navigate any frustrations before your fishing trip, look for a safe, open space outside where you can cast and reel. Prep your rod by removing any hooks to prevent injury while your kids learn how to cast.
When you are ready, start by modeling how to cast a line by showing your kids with your own rod and reel. Have them watch as you talk them through each step of what you do, and encourage them to ask questions. You may need to show them a few times before they feel comfortable enough to try with their own rod and reel.
When they are ready to try casting their line, talk them through the same steps you showed them. They may need a little more guidance, so you can help them by gently positioning their hands on the rod or moving their arms in the right motion to get a feel for casting.
Positive praise for what they are doing right will help them learn more quickly. Do not worry about correcting everything as kids are not going to have proper technique right away. As long as they can get a hook in the water, they are doing a great job!
Safety Tips for Fishing with Kids
Older kids may be able to help with baiting a hook, but for younger kids this is better left to the adult. The same goes for unhooking any fish you may catch. While you should allow your child to be involved in the process by having them watch what you are doing, hooks can be dangerous when not handled properly. Always have a fishing first aid kid on hand, just in case, and talk to your kids about fishing safety before and during your trip. To learn more about common injuries that can happen while fishing and how to treat them, be sure to check out our Fishing First Aid blog.
Finally, remember that any fishing trip with kids is about making memories together and having a good time. The first time you go fishing together your trip will probably be filled with snagged lines and breaks more than anything. This is okay! Take it slow and let your kids get comfortable with fishing now so you can have more enjoyable trips together.