Ever thought about taking your kids fishing? Now might be the perfect time to start…
I’m a semi keen fisherman. My Dad is super keen. Over the years he took me along plenty of times and taught me a thing or two. So now as ‘Dad’ for my kids I know enough about it to be able to catch fish most of the time. Thanks Dad!
Kids love fishing I have found. They love the idea of it, they love the tools of the trade, they love the bites and the fish fights. But they especially love seeing fish come out of the water and into the bucket! And when they wind it in themselves!! WOW!! There is not a more excited kid on the planet than the one that just caught their very first fish!
So if you’re not a fisherman but would like to increase your odds of a good fishing trip with the kids here are a few well-tested, home-grown tips.
- Don’t fight the elements. Fishing through a storm is ‘par for the course’ for adults set on a big haul, but it’s a guaranteed fail for kids. If it’s raining, windy, baking hot, bone chilling cold then re-schedule. Better to let them down a little bit but come back with a winner on a better day than forge ahead into the storm.
- Go for the little fish. Little kids don’t care if it’s a monster or a minnow. Actually I find they like the minnows better anyway. They’re much more approachable! So that means small rods or hand lines, tiny hooks and tiny bait. I know you might want to catch dinner but this is kid fishing and you want each of them to catch at least one. Little ones are best.
- Use non-offensive bait. I like to use plain old dough made from flour and water. White bread squashed up works just as well. You can also buy ‘super bait’ from most places you can buy a fishing rod that is kinda like play-dough. It comes in foil sealed sachets. The kids like it, they can handle it and it’s not very smelly. We just use dough because the kids like to make the dough at home before we go. Plus it’s cheap so you can make heaps and the kids can break little bits off and thrown them in the water to bring the fish around (or just to throw it in – the very little one are often happy to do just that!).
- Try a wharf, jetty or a lake’s edge if you can. Somewhere you can sit down, set your things up, and fishing lines just drop off into the water. Kids can’t cast very well but they can drop a line of a wharf. Little fish also like the structure of pillars and the seaweed and such that grows off them. They hide under the cover of the wharf and dart in and out around the edges for little scraps of food – and your kids fishing lines – as they drift past! If you have young non swimmers or it is a working wharf then take the logical precautions so you are not diving in after them or getting moved on by the ferries every 5 minutes!
- Try to go at high tide or an hour or so either side of it. It is not a perfect rule but in general you will find it better for catching fish. Knowing the tides used to require a tide chart and some knowledge but not anymore. Just Google tides and your local fishing spot and you’ll get somewhere that’s quoting them. It makes a difference so better to plan around the tides – remember they want to catch fish!
- The best is to combine the above tide info with an Early Morning.Little fish like a bit of cover and when it’s the middle of day and full sun they like to hide away a bit. You’ll do better in the morning’s (or evenings, but mornings are better for excited kids!).
- Help the kids hook the fish. That means you might need to hold the line and feel for the bites. When you do, give a little pull on the line to hook the fish. Kids aren’t very good at this and I find they usually miss them. But once it’s hooked, hand the line or rod over and tell the kid to wind it in! They are more than happy with that. I know they want to hold the line ‘themselves!’ all the time, but trust me – they will love you more when they actually catch a fish! And don’t have too many lines in the water at one time…..you’ll end up in a mess. I usually have maximum 2, or 3 if I have a big kids that can fish solo for 10 minutes or so on their own (while you sort out the little ones). Even a single line is OK.
- Take a big bucket you can fill with water for the catch. Kids want look at THEIR fish swimming around. Best way is to carefully un-hook it (if you are using tiny hooks this is easier) and pop it in the bucket. the kids will crowd around and talk to it. They throw oodles of dough in there to feed it (’cause it’s hungry Dad!) and squeal with glee when it splashes and jumps. After about 10 minutes get them all to help you tip the water and the fish back into the water so it can go back to its family! They always oblige, especially when you explain that it’s a bit worried and needs to get back to its family – they get it!
- And lastly, don’t stay too long. An hour is plenty. Even half an hour if you have caught a few fish and everyone’s happy. Make it short and sweat and they have great memories and want to go again soon.
Kids fishing is super fun and a great experience for all kids. I sometimes meet adults that tell me they have never caught a fish in their lives! Don’t let your kids be one of these – even if you are one yourself. Get organised and go fishing with the kids. You might have more fun than them. And take your camera!