Take a kid fishing! Youth involvement in fishing, hunting and the outdoors is the future of these great recreational sports. It is beyond important to do what we can as adults to include and encourage our children, nieces, nephews and any other young acquaintances you may have in your life to spend time in the outdoors. The best way to do this is to get them out there yourself. Taking a kid fishing and showing them a great time can be the springboard to getting them into a lifelong passion, just as our parents or mentors did for so many of us when we were young.
If a child is already motivated to go fishing and excited about the opportunity, you really can’t miss. Simply get them on the water and help them sponge up all the information you can think of. Put them on some fish and let them blossom. But realistically, this situation is a bit more uncommon then what most adults are faced with when trying to get kids involved in fishing. Often times, children are un-opinionated on the subject or simply don’t have a great deal of interest in getting out on the boat with Dad. This is where a bit more strategy comes into play for adults.
First and foremost, you never want to force a child to go fishing. If they simply DON’T want to go, pushing it on them can cause more harm than good. Of course, every situation is different and parents know their kids much better than I, but this is typically a solid rule of thumb. Often times, as they mature or their interests change, the outdoors begins to become more intriguing.
In most cases, kids hover somewhere on the fence. They don’t balk at the opportunity to go fishing, but they also don’t have a burning desiring to be on the water sunup to sundown like many adults do who were bit by the fishing bug long ago. This is the group that can be inspired to become passionate about fishing and enjoy the sport for the rest of their lives, but there’s a right way to do this and a wrong way.
Any day you can spend on the water with a kid is a good day, but it’s important to think about how you’re going to go about this. When taking kids fishing you should do everything in your power to make the outing successful, easy-going and comfortable. Take them to a lake where you feel you have the best odds of having them catch fish. Target a species that is relatively easy to catch so again, they are having consistent, fish catching action. It’s hard to beat a bobber and live bait setup for panfish and even bass when taking novice, youth anglers out. Select the right conditions. If it’s a nasty, windy wet day then opt to wait until the weather makes the outing a more comfortable experience.
Try to be conscious of the equipment you’re providing them with. So often adults provide kids with the oldest, cheapest equipment possible, and this is understandable as we’re trying to avoid things getting broken. But, do your best the allow them to use a rod and reel that actually works properly and can be effective in catching fish. Their experience will be so much better if the gear they are using is functional and fun to use. If things are going well, let youth anglers be independent by letting them bait their own hook, allowing them to cast and take off their own fish.
Lastly, pay close attention to your young fishing partners throughout the day and make adjustments when needed. If they’re struggling with a technique, simplify things ASAP and don’t allow them to be frustrated for too long. If they’re excelling at what you’re doing and they seem to be getting bored, step things up a notch and go from fishing panfish to throwing Senkos for bass for example.
Again, every situation is different but at the end of the day we all need to do whatever we can to get youth involved in the outdoors. Make it your goal this Summer to take a kid fishing!