5 Ways to Turn Fishing into a Learning Experience for Kids

Every time you take a kid fishing, you have the opportunity to teach them fundamental fishing skills and lessons that they can use for years to come. Since kids are naturally inquisitive, youth is not only the perfect time to show them how to tie simple knots, use basic tackle properly, how to rig different baits or release the fish, but also to teach them the reasons why certain knots, baits and hooks work better in some situations over others. Here are five specific “teachable” opportunities you can take advantage of the next time you take a kid fishing.

  1. Which size hooks are best to use for different species of fish. In general, smaller hooks are used for smaller fish and larger hooks for bigger species. However, the type and size of hook used may also depend on the bait and rigging method. Explain why and how using hooks that are too small may increase the chance of the fish swallowing the hook and how using a hook that is too big may give off an unnatural presentation that the fish will avoid.
  2. How to tie a hook to fishing line. The clinch knot is a fairly easy and popular fishing knot that kids can learn how to tie. Use a thin piece of rope or yarn to show and explain the first time since fishing line is harder to see. Once they practice a few times with the rope or yarn, have them “graduate” to a piece of actual fishing line.
  3. How to rig a variety of live baits. Teach kids how and where to insert the hook when freshwater fishing using live worms or minnows. When fishing saltwater, show them how to rig a shrimp or pinfish, so that the bait stays alive and moves through the current as naturally as possible.
  4. How to take the fish off the hook. Let kids know that the fish should be handled as little as possible and that a towel or rag should not be used to handle the fish since a towel will remove the protective slime a fish has on it’s body. If kids are a little older, show them how to handle and use a pair of pliers to remove hooks quickly to keep the stress to the fish minimal.
  5. How to revive and release the fish. Remind kids about the importance of keeping the fish in the water as long as possible. Once the hook has been removed, teach them how to place the fish gently back in the water, then how to move the fish gently back and forth to get water flowing back through its gills.

If you’ve had the rewarding experience of taking a group of kids fishing, what other teachable moments or opportunities would you recommend?

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.