5 Tips to Get Your Kids Excited about Fishing

My wife and I are raising two anglers. More than merely a hobby, this simple pleasure will be there for them if they want to seek a thrill or escape anxiety.  Watching my kids’ excitement from fishing helped me remember the magic of fishing with kids and rekindled my passion for the sport. Here’s how you can excite kids about the “perpetual series of occa¬sions for hope.” 

1. Start Young. 
Seize every opportunity to visit water. Give them your kids a stroller ride as you visit an aquarium or tour a fish hatchery. Want to fish go fishing with your toddler? Strap your tottler toddler in a backpack carrier and blow his mind as you reel in a fish from a pond. Let them play with the minnows in the bait bucket. And as soon your toddler knows the difference between a twizzler and a rubber worm, buy them a tackle box and start their own collection of soft plastic creatures. 

2. Utilize Your Yard. 
Even when not around water, put a kids fishing pole in their hands and let them play casting games.  Just casting this horizontal yo-yo of sorts is fun and their increasing accuracy will help reduce frustration when actually fishing – which can go a long way to get the kids excited about fishing. A casting plug and a hula-hoop, Frisbee, or bucket for a target can get them itching to test their new skills on the water.

3. Catch Fish… 
It sounds obvious but “success is contagious” and one of the best ways to push this activity of “kids fishing” closer to “kids catching” is to use live bait. When you’re trying to get your kids excited about fishing, there may be some issues here as the idea of impaling live bait on a hook may not go over so well. You can try to rationalize with older kids with a discussion about the food chain and that fish would be eating anyway, but don’t push it. Other bait can work too.  

4. Or Not. 
Keep in mind the goal when fishing with kids is just to have fun, quality time. One common mistake of parents is to fail to heed the old saying, “always leave the audience wanting more.”
 Famous angler Hank Parker has 4 boys and 11 grandchildren. “I learned the hard way. Leave your rod at home. Let it be fun. Fish 5 minutes. Quit. Skip rocks.”

5. Awaken All Senses. 
Fishing is a sensory smorgasbord. Take advantage of this to create a lasting impression of this experience. 

Help them see fish in the water with their own pair of polarized glasses as you buzz down the river in a jet boat. Set them up with a topwater lure and the nerve-rattling blast from the depths that is sure to follow. And point out the brilliant oranges and blues from common but almost tropical looking pumpkinseed.

And while you are at it, take a quick sniff of that fish. Along with bug spray, sunscreen, and rubber worms, that weirdly sweet fish smell compliments the powerfully memorable fishing trip bouquet.

Let your kids feel the fish, not only by the fishing rod once hooked but have them touch the line as something is nibbling bait. The mysterious vibration traveling up a thin strand of monofilament is communication from another world. When landed, show them how to safely hold a fish and maybe disclose the strange pleasure from obtaining a little “bass thumb.”

Listen for fish jumping, frogs croaking, and that glorious sound of the reel’s drag being put to work.
And let them savor that honeybun on the way or bag of Cheetos heading back.

And before taking kids out fishing and boating make sure your fishing license and boat registration is up to date. 

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.