11 Top Tips For Teaching Kids To Fish And Have Fun While Fishing

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Now, more than ever, children spend less time outdoors. With the world of entertainment at their fingertips, one moment of solidarity or quiet can be hard for them to handle.

Parents and guardians are constantly looking for things to keep their children occupied. If you can get your child interested in fishing, you’ll provide them with a lifetime of entertainment and learning.

With social media, children are able to experience life through somebody else. Sadly, quite a bit of a child’s free time is spent watching other people enjoy life while they sit and wonder why they feel lonely or discouraged.

It’s not easy for parents or guardians to drop everything and provide the amount of attention they need. Spend a free day teaching your child to fish on a lake or river and show him/her the ropes. After landing a few fish, you’ll find them asking to go back for more. 

Fishing Should Be an Experience For Kids

Get the kids comfortable whilst they are fishing!

Gone are the days when kids can sit by mom or dad and fish for hours. The entire process must be a full-on experience for them. If you look at any industry from food to education, you’ll find that kids are always going to have something to do to keep them preoccupied. 

Start by taking your kids to a body of water with more to do than just fish. Combine fishing with swimming, nature walks, or hunting for insects. This will keep them engaged and give them other things to do while you’re waiting for fish to bite. 

One of the most important things to remember is that kids aren’t going to enjoy fishing if you aren’t enjoying fishing. Kids are more perceptive than you think. If they can tell you’re getting impatient or frustrated, they’ll mimic your emotions. Stay positive and keep the energy high. First impressions are vital! If the first few times fishing is fun and exciting, they’ll associate fishing with fun regardless of how many you catch. 

Tip: Don’t expect to be doing much fishing yourself! The trip is about getting the kids to catch fish NOT you!

Take Lots of Food and Drinks

Make sure you pack a cool box with all sorts of snacks and treats to keep the kids from getting hungry or thirsty. Before you go let them choose and pack the goodies 

Tip: Taking plenty of water with you is a must, fishing on a hot sunny day makes everyone thirsty. 

Check The Weather Before Take the Kids Fishing

Wherever possible we want to go in the best weather. If it’s pouring down with rain all day, then kids are not going to be so keen to return. Just check the weather forecast the day before you plan to go.

Tip: Choose the right clothing for the trip, and pack an extra jacket in case it gets cold.

Go Where Kids Are Sure To Catch Fish

Fishing Hats are essential in hot weather

Your kids are going to want to do the most “catching” possible. If you can, time your fishing excursion with the prime feeding hours of the day. This will give you the best chance to help them land a fish and see why it’s such an enjoyable activity. 

Tip: Go to a location that you already know well and are familiar with the types of fish and the places to catch them.

Also, go to productive waters and target fish that aren’t going to be overly picky. It may not be your best idea to take your children out and target carp or catfish on their first fishing trip! Target perch, panfish, or small bass. They’re usually willing to feed and you have the excitement of landing an extremely aggressive fish. 

Tip: Whilst fishing, always make sure safety is put first. The water can be dangerous. Fishing tackle such as hooks can injure if not handled correctly.

Start Kids With the “Fun” Parts of Fishing

Again, it’s all about the experience with your kids. Diehard anglers find different parts of the sport to be “fun”. However, remember that you’re dealing with a child and you need to try to show them the fun sides of fishing.

Show them how to bait the hook, and how to set the hook, and teach them to cast out their bobber.

If you teach them how to read water or sit patiently, you could cause them to lose quite a bit of interest. The more stimulating you can be at the beginning, the more willing they’ll be to sit through the slow days of fishing. 

Tip: Take a break every now and then, and go for a couple of minutes walk together down the river bank or around the lake. 

Spin Fishing is the Best Place to Begin For Kids

Even if you enjoy other types of fishing, it’s best to start your kids with learning spin fishing. Buy them their own small rod and reel and make it something that they’re responsible to care for. This will provide even more interest! 

If you love fly fishing or ice fishing, don’t start them at that level. Start them simple even if it’s fishing from a dock or the shore. With spin fishing, you’ll find that they’re able to do more of it on their own and you don’t have to be constantly watching over them! 

Let the Kids Bait the Hook

Kids will always have fun with most types of bait, start them using the most common fishing bait. If they are a little squeamish of maggots or worms and don’t like touching them then use an artificial plastic bait.

By baiting up plastic baits (especially worms) they will get a good experience of baiting the hook and this will help them learn once they are ready to use the real bait! 

Tip: Always take as many pictures as you can of the fish the kids catch and it will give that extra motivation to go more often.

How to Teach Kids to Cast

When you’re trying to teach kids how to cast, take into consideration their motor skills. Most kids would be able to start casting around four or five years old. They can communicate and complete the majority of the necessary motions for casting. 

Teaching kids to cast is going to require an extreme amount of patience on your end. They’ll mess up, get distracted, and likely appear as if they’re never going to learn. 

  • The first thing you need to make sure of is that they have the appropriate size gear. Don’t feel bad if you have your kid start on a cheap spinning rod from a local box store. They’ll quickly outgrow it, but they’ll learn the motion and it won’t break your bank. 
  • You’ll find that the majority of children’s rods have an underspin reel. Underspin reels have a nice line-release trigger. If you teach your child to hold the line-release trigger long enough to let their line hit the water, then you’ll be good to go. It’s an easy action and not challenging to teach. 
  • You’re best going to teach a child how to cast nowhere near the water. The water is too exciting and too stimulating that they may not focus or learn the most necessary movements. 
  • Figure out what hand your child is going to reel with and make sure it’s set up properly. Once you have this setup, tie on a small weight or “plug” and let you start teaching. 
  • Have the child hold the rod over their shoulder, get ready to collapse the line trigger, and whip the rod over their shoulder. As they’re bringing the rod over their shoulder, they need to collapse the line trigger. This will allow the line to escape the reel and cast.
  •  You want the rod tip to finish right near their shoulder. If it finishes too low, the bait will barely leave the tip of the rod and smack the water. 

Start on Simple Water

Girls also love to go fishing!

Once your kids know how to cast, you can feel free to bring them to the water. Start on a smaller pond or lake with plenty of open space so you won’t have to deal with any obstacles that make life challenging. The more trees and weeds you can avoid, the better you’ll be. 

Make sure you head to the water during the time of day when the fish are going to bite! This will help them put the casting techniques they learned to good use. The more action, the more they’ll learn to love fishing.

Once you start seeing your kids gain confidence,  you can up the challenge. Take them on your boat, a kayak, or a canoe. Or go to a small river or stream and see what sort of fish you can find. As you up the challenge, you’ll find that kids will become more focused in hopes of impressing you and practicing all the things you have learned. 

Tip: Take a hat and sunscreen if you know it’s going to be hot and sunny. 

If The Fishing Is Slow, Give the Kids Simple Jobs To Do

This can range from looking out in the water for any moving fish, and even looking around at nature.

Tackle boxes are typically very messy, mine always could do with some rearrangement or sorting out. Kids are great at doing these tasks. More importantly, keep them occupied and they will feel like they are helping out.  

Tip: During the trip, teach them fishing etiquette. Remain quiet, take home all the garbage, be gentle with the fish and respect the fish whether big or small. 

Tips for When Kids Get Discouraged or Get Bored Fishing

Fishing for panfish is a great way to start them fishing

Odds are you’re going to find a kid or two that doesn’t really fall in love with fishing. It could be the weather, the lack of action, or the work that goes into preparing for it that causes them to lose interest, but that’s okay!

Whether you decide that they should keep trying is up to you, but it’s important to know what to do when they start to lose interest. 

  1. Be okay with failure; find joy in it! We all struggle when we fish and that’s what makes it special. Do your best to make it fun and keep a good attitude as you may be failing. Even if you have to show them how to do something 50 different times, keep encouraging them and do your best to show that it’s the reality of fishing, but not the end of the world.
  2. Encourage your kids as much as possible! Kids don’t want to disappoint their parents or guardians. If you want to turn a kid off to fishing, get frustrated with them while they’re trying to learn something you love to do! Remember that it took time for you to learn as well.
  3. Embrace and help your kids to find some fishing sites on social media. There are plenty of YouTube channels with younger people who fish! The Googan Squad is a great resource with instructional videos and family-friendly content for young anglers. A simple search on YouTube fishing will provide thousands of fun videos. 
  4. Invite some of your kids’ friends along! Sometimes learning with a friend can create more interest for your children. If anything, they’ll have someone to talk to as they learn! As long as they’re outside enjoying themselves, you can consider that a win.

Last Important Tip: Be patient and don’t get frustrated! Kids will tangle up the line, make too much noise and complain at times. As mentioned earlier in this article encourage, encourage, encourage! 

Buy Them A Starter Fishing Combo Set

Once they have been fishing a couple of times, buy them their own fishing rod and reel combo starter set. These starter sets are great birthday or Christmas presents and once they have their own kid’s fishing rod they will show even more interest.

Final Thoughts

Kids these days need affirmation, stimulation, and positive adult role models in their lives. Fishing is a great activity to teach dozens of life lessons.

Let’s do our part and show kids how great the sport is. It’ll not only inspire them to continue learning, but it will make for more patient and happier kids.

It’s no secret that the outdoors are healing. People have been returning to them forever in hopes of finding true peace. Take the opportunity to teach your kids to fish and they’ll have plenty of time to prepare themselves for life.  

If you liked this article please read more in my section on fishing for beginners here!

Steve Fitzjohn