Introducing a child to fishing can lead to a lifetime of adventures and experiences for both you and your child.
RVers, campers and roadtrippers can enhance the memories for younger travelers by just fishing together. Here’s some tips and ideas for presenting the world of fishing to children.
Generate interest in the outdoors before they are ready to fish
- Take young ones for walks along lakes, rivers and piers
- Seek out people who are fishing, look at their catch and talk about the fish
- Look for minnows darting around dock piles or in the shallows at the water’s edge
Give your child the right equipment
In order for a child to feel comfortable and to master skills, he or she needs to use child-sized equipment.
- A closed bale or “push button” reel (generally durable and eliminates 95 percent of the tangles associated with the open face counterparts)
- If fishing from a pier, boat or near deep water, wear a properly sized U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation device.
Do your homework
By the time you get to waters edge, children will have only one thing on their mind: Fishing. Do as much of the prep work at home as possible which includes teaching your child:
- How to use a rod
- How to tie a proper fishing knot
- How to rig the line
- How to safely cast
It is great fun to practice casting in the backyard or park (watch for passersby — it’s another opportunity to talk about fishing safety). When planning the trip, set up your rod at home so all that is needed at the lake is to choose your spot, bait the line and cast.
Instruct your child in the basics of safety such as always looking around before casting and being careful on slippery rocks. Life jackets may be appropriate depending on where you are fishing.
- Bring sunscreen
- Pack a hat
- Bring a sweater
- Pack food and water
- Watch out for poison oak
Fish for as long (or short) a time as they are interested
Kids have a much shorter attention span than adults. They may be ready to quit after just a few minutes, especially depending upon how the fishing goes. When a child is ready to pack it up, call it a day — all the more reason to make initial excursions only a short distance from home.
Focus on easy to catch species
For a child, the thrill of feeling the tug on the line is more important than what is doing the tugging. Fish for easy to catch fish such as sunfish or crappie.
Focus on the child
Make sure the fishing trip is about your child. Leave the radio, newspaper, and video games at home. Focus on personal interactions, time relaxing together and the solitude of fishing.
Be ready for the catch
Be prepared for the catch if it comes. It may take a while for the fish to bite. Remind your child to keep the line in the water.
- Make sure a landing net is nearby
- Talk about what it means to catch fish. It can upset some children to see a fish gasping and flopping around on the dry land.
- Have the camera ready
Model ethical angling behavior
Your actions speak louder than your words.
- Be respectful of other people using the water
- Be aware of and follow fishing and park regulations for the area
- Be licensed – check your state’s age requirements as children under certain ages do not need a fishing license, but adults do need a license to fish
For parents who do not know how to fish
Fishing is a hobby anyone can start at any age. Do some reading, make a few inquiries and in a short time you’ll be ready.
- Check with local bait and tackle stores for information sources for how to fish, where to go and what is biting. They should be able to direct you to a book or brochure on basic fishing techniques. Make sure to ask about fishing regulations.
- Talk with other anglers you meet. The anglers on the shoreline are generally happy to help. Feel free to ask.
For parents who know how to fish
- Keep it simple. Do not try to impart the lessons you have learned over a lifetime in the span of a single morning.
- Take it slow. Get them hooked so they will want to know more.
- Choose one knot and one rigging and teach that to your child. Teaching a variety of set ups for different situations can be overwhelming.
Your child may not share your enthusiasm for fishing
Even if you do everything right, fishing is not for everyone. If your child just doesn’t get excited, let it go. They may be ready to try it again when they are older.
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.