Whether you have memories of your grandfather teaching you how to cast over a pond or that family camping trip when you caught your first bluegill, the nostalgia of fishing at a young age has not died. Today, fishing is still a huge family-focused activity. In fact, in 2018, a report was released by the Recreation Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation that reported over 49 million Americans from age 6 and up, participated in fishing in 2017. This is a lot of people fishing and a range of skill levels on the water.
It’s hard to imagine that any effort or creativity is needed to make a fishing trip exciting or comfortable enough to hook one’s family. But the hard truth is this, it’s not everyone’s favorite sport. But with some effort and patience, the experience can make a huge difference and help you to create lasting memories with your family. Not only is fishing great for relieving stress and promoting positive mental health, but it can also strengthen family bonds while helping children gain an appreciation for the natural environment which has sadly decreased over the years. Creating lifelong memories by grooming young anglers can help keep the family tradition alive and maybe even recognize new passions and talents. There is nothing more important than family and creating a legacy within. We have gathered some helpful tips for getting your kids and spouses out there with you.
Make it Fun
You are bound to feel overly ambitious to get out there and run with things if you fish a lot but too young children and new anglers, starting simple and keeping it light-hearted is very important. Kids will be kids. Their attention spans are shorter and they typically prefer faster-paced sports so fishing can seem a little daunting at times. Be patient, don’t force it and give extra compliments. While it’s important to teach etiquette, it’s more important that they can simply enjoy themselves. Try not to get frustrated with their louder voices, numerous line tangles, and fish that get away. Remember, you were once in their shoes. Heck, we all still get snagged from time to time. Keep a second rod ready and prepared so that you can fix one line while they resume fishing with the other. This will decrease issues with attention and with them feeling like they did something wrong.
New anglers may not be able to spend the entire day fishing. Shorter trips may be better at first. 1-2 hour trips are best for starting with kids due to their attention spans. Fishing for some people can be plain old gross from slimy bait & worms, stinky fish and murky water. Don’t let that bother you. Hook the bait for them and don’t push it. They can still enjoy fishing without hooking the bait on their first few adventures. Don’t force them to touch or hold the fish if they catch one. Some kids might be scared of the flopping creatures. Eventually, this might be fun. Just follow their signals and have fun laughing about it with them. If the day seems to be going too slow or the weather makes it unenjoyable, call it a day. Don’t be the person that won’t leave until you catch the fish you desire. This will only make everything more frustrating and less desirable going forward. This is an experience, not a competition. Take pictures even without trophy fish hanging on hooks. You want your loved ones to know that spending time with them in your passion is more important to you than what they catch or do not catch.
Part of the fishing experience is preparation. Allow your loved ones to join you in picking out the gear they may need. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Give them choices and allow them to be involved in the process. As they show more interest, this can also be a fun activity to do together whether it’s shopping for gear or making your lures. Kids tend to be proud to participate when they feel like they have had choices during the process. This is also a great time for some fishing education. You’ll have the opportunity to explain what all of the working parts are so that when you get on the water, the lesson is not just about the “whats” and is more about the “hows.”
Setting the trip up for success is all about preparation. You will want to consider the things you consider for yourself and then take new anglers and their ages into consideration. What will the weather be like? This can change the entire day based on attire and even how enjoyable it can be. Does your spouse not tolerate the cold very well? Maybe ice fishing is not the best start. The same goes for the heat. Little ones tend to get exhausted and cranky after too much time in the sun so maybe early morning fishing might be a better plan in the summer. That being said, pack accordingly. Consider all of the things that will make the experience more enjoyable. Some things you won’t want to forget:
- Sun hat
- Bug Spray
- Bottled Water
- First Aid Kit
- Change of clothes for all
- Chairs if onshore
Nobody said that fishing has to only be about catching fish. Enjoy the outdoors together. Do a little exploring and teach your family about the other things around you that you tend to enjoy yourself. Most kids love minnows, frogs and bugs. Let them play while also teaching them respect for nature and all that surrounds them. Flip over some rocks and see what you can find. Teach them how to skip rocks and let them get dirty. Pack a picnic and stop to enjoy some time to chat while you eat. Take breaks from the line from time to time to do these things so that they get an entire experience from it. You might find that some kids enjoy fishing while others just enjoy going fishing with the family because of everything else!
Hire a Guide
If you feel ready to get more off-shore but don’t have a boat of your own, hire a fishing guide for the day. This is a great opportunity for the family members that show more interest in fishing. This adventure can help seal the deal for some as most guides specialize in teaching technique and touring the nearby wildlife.
While it is important for every angler to learn the ethics and regulations of fishing, don’t get too caught up on it from the start. Some kids will get quickly bored by maritime rules. You can be responsible for knowing all of the details while slowly teaching them the basics about fishing etiquette. After all, who would want to get involved in something that seems filled with rules and restrictions right from the start? This will come in time. Focus on having fun at first.
The most important thing to remember is that taking your family fishing is about spending time with them and exploring your passion together, not about catching the biggest fish. The more fun you make it, the more likely those days will come later on where you find yourself fishing a tournament with your loved one. Consider the day through their eyes and not only will your family appreciate your considerations, but they may just be more open to the entire process. What do you remember about fishing as a child? Most likely, it’s a person and not a fish. Keep that in mind and you are bound to create some life long memories with your family.