In June, families across the U.S. celebrate Father’s Day with fishing trips. While fishing as a family is a great idea in theory, those of us with kids have all had one of those days out that felt never-ending – and not in a good way. Fact is, fishing with kids can be one heck of an energy drainer if you’re not prepared for the unique challenges that little ones (and even bigger ones) bring to a day on the water. What’s great about fishing with kids is that you can learn all kinds of new things about your children during a fishing outing while also teaching them everything there is to know about your favorite hobby. Provided, that is, you keep a few ground rules in mind!
Don’t Turn a Fishing Trip into a Lecture
There are two parts to this rule. First, do your best to impart the rules of safe fishing without preaching or making fishing seem like a real chore-fest. Fishing with kids should be about learning the basics and having fun, not memorizing line weights and catch regulations. Second, this is not the time to bring up homework forgotten at school or messy rooms. There’s a time to talk to children about those things and there’s a time to fish. You’re on the water – so fish.
Give Kids Age Appropriate Tasks (and Be Patient)
Little kids can hold a rod but may not be coordinated enough to bait a hook or cast. Some children aren’t thrilled with the idea of handling live bait. Take this opportunity to show ’em how it’s done, even if you’re secretly stewing about having to do it all yourself. When kids do show enthusiasm for doing things themselves, don’t expect perfection and, as long as it’s safe to do so, accept imperfection.
Cheer for Every Catch
Novice anglers are usually a lot more excited to catch plenty of small fries versus waiting and waiting to land a big one. You may throw back everything that your kid hooks on your day out, but if you want to instill a love of fishing in him or her, praise the little ones and take pictures as if each was a record-breaking catch.
Don’t Push the Envelope the First Time Out
When choosing a spot to fish with a child, consider how easy it is to get there, how comfortable it will be, and the safety of the spot. Trust us when we say that once your kid has had enough and wants to head in, you’ll be happier for having chosen a spot that’s close to home. And whatever you do, never forget the sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, and first aid supplies. A sunburn or hooked finger is never fun.
And finally, remember that fishing with kids is a learning process for everyone. You’ll probably spend a lot of this fishing outing unsnagging lines, dealing with hooks and bait, unhooking fish, and doing other simple tasks most adults can handle with ease. Kids will invariably get wet, dirty, and bruised on a boat. But the reward you get for your patience is a fishing buddy who will never stop wanting to join you for a day out on the water.