A brief article summarizing some suggestions for ensuring an enjoyable day teaching a child to fish.
The outdoor sports rely heavily on one generation instilling the love of the sport into the next generation. This means that one generation has to take the time and effort to take a child fishing with them, if they are going to have the desire to go fishing! For kids to enjoy the sport of fishing, adults must do all they can to make their opportunities exciting. Here are just a few tips to help you introduce the sport of fishing to a child.
1. Look for high success rates. Let’s face it: kids want to see something happening. They are not going to be satisfied fishing for something that will take them 100 or more casts to catch. They need a fish that they can catch in the first few casts. For that reason, bluegill or similar pan fish are the perfect choice. These fish bite readily, and are easily found. It is hard to beat a summer afternoon of catching a bunch of fish on crickets, worms, or even top water poppers. Try a local farm pond for high success rates. Chances are, once you catch the first couple of fish, your child will be hooked for life!
2. Make them comfortable. Kids don’t want to be miserable, so make sure to go the extra mile to make them comfortable. Don’t plan on taking them out on a small boat for hours on end, where it will be difficult to stretch legs, and take restroom breaks. Plan on fishing from the bank, or from a pier, so that they will have plenty of room to move around. Provide a comfortable seat so that they can sit if they want to. If they get bored with the fishing, they may want to sit and do something else, or maybe just watch you fish for a bit.
3. Teach them to handle the fish. Some fish can be very intimidating. Catfish, for example, can be dangerous if not handled correctly, but there is no reason to instill fear of these fish in a kid. They will have a lot more fun if you teach them all about the sport, which means that you will have to show them how to handle fish to remove them from the hook.
4. Help, but don’t do it all. You will have to teach a child how to do a lot during this phase of their fishing life. They will not know how to bait hooks, or release fish, or put them on a stringer if some are to be kept. Patiently teach all of these things, but then provide opportunities for the child to practice what they learn. Part of the fun of the sport is to have the “hands on” experience. Most kids will love having that fish smell on their own hands!
5. Think safety. Any time a child is near water, they should have a life jacket on. Get a life jacket that fits, so that the child will be comfortable, but enforce the rule of wearing it. There is no reason to risk a dangerous accident when preventing it is so easy.
6. Keep a few. Catch and release fishing is great for the preservation of fish, but kids want the experience of keeping a few fish to take home and eat. They will gain a certain satisfaction by knowing that they are getting to eat something that they provided through their fishing exploits. Keep at least enough for a good meal. After all, you aren’t going to harm the bluegill population!
Fishing can be a sport that a child will continue for the rest of his or her life. It can be very inexpensive to participate in, and it can be done just about anywhere in the world. So, do your child a favor, and take him or her fishing!