Do you remember when you caught your first fish? I know I do… there’s something very exciting about successfully utilizing skill and luck to reel in something that can be cooked up and turned into that night’s dinner. Learning from an experienced and patient teacher (otherwise known as my dad) how to bait a hook, cast a line, and reel in a fish also turned out to be an excellent bonding experience. I enjoyed it so much that many years later, it was something that I couldn’t wait to share with my own children. If you’re considering introducing your child to the joys of fishing this summer, here are some simple tips to keep in mind to help guarantee a rewarding and positive experience.
- Location. Choose a place that is safe and comfortable and easily accessed. It’s also a good idea to look for a site where your child will have a good chance of success. Catching a fish will give her a great sense of accomplishment, and your child won’t care if they’re small fish at first. Sitting around waiting for a big fish to bite, though, is liable to get boring. Shoot for an area where she’s most likely to catch at least a few small fish; this will give her that feeling of success and have her looking forward to the next outing.
- Pack wisely. You’ll need to bring sunscreen, snacks and drinks, bug spray, and a first aid kit. If there is no bathroom accessible where you’re going, stop at a convenience store right before you arrive and insist that everyone try; this is important particularly if you have girls, who have a harder time simply using the woods.
- Bait and tackle. Use live bait. It will increase the likelihood of success, and it may be more interesting for your child, though you should either bait the hooks for her, or else supervise very closely if she’s doing it herself. Short rods are easier for children to handle, so it may be worth getting her her own rod. To avoid frustration, make sure that everything is in good working order ahead of time.
- Be patient. During your fishing trip, you can expect to bait lots of hooks, untangle lots of lines, and even help reel in a few fish. You can also expect to be leaving with wet and muddy kids. That’s all okay, and par for the course. The sport takes time to learn, and your patience and perseverance is what is going to ensure that they enjoy learning how to fish.
- Have fun with it. Bring a camera to capture your child’s face when she reels in her first fish (not to mention a picture of the catch!). Remember that this is all about having fun with your child; if you’re enjoying yourself, she will as well.
Fishing is one of those activities that children and adults both enjoy, so start teaching her now. If you’re lucky you may end up with a fishing partner for many years to come.