A little girl learning how to fish with a rod and reel combo at a lake on a foggy morning.

Introducing Your Kids To Fishing

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First, at what age should kids be introduced to fishing?

I’ve seen kids of all ages become fishermen. My first job out of high school was teaching kids at a summer daycare to fish. While kids of all ages take to it well, starting young is my best advice. Age four is a great age to introduce kids to fishing.

I was introduced to fishing when I was 4 years old. At 4 years of age, many kids can understand the risks and safety rules for being around water. My parents also started me in swimming lessons at four. Consider swimming lessons as well for safety.

Fishing is a wonderful hobby that will provide your child with fun, adventure, and memories to last a lifetime. Some of my fondest memories are fishing with my dad and granddad. It’s one of the greatest gifts they ever gave me and I want to provide the same for my daughter.

And in case you are wondering. I really do remember fishing at the age of four.

Greater the Understanding – Greater the Enjoyment

Father and two young boys fishing at the edge of a little pond.

The brain development of young kids is astounding! They learn new skills incredibly fast. That’s why age four is an ideal age for introducing your kid to fishing. At this age, they are great at understanding your instruction, and the more they understand, the more enjoyment they’ll get out of fishing.

Frustration can easily lead to a child’s loss of interest in fishing, so explain to them in a way they’ll understand, nobody knows your child better than you. You can bet, when they do get the grasp of fishing, those sporadic fishing outings will soon turn into weekends away. Am already itching for camping-fishing trips.

Teaching Your Kids Water Safety

Children have little fear of things when they’re younger and must be taught water safety before they start fishing.

Don’t scare your child when presenting the dangers. This could put them off to fishing altogether. Explain the dangers in simple terms, and get them to repeat the safety rules in their own words. By doing so, you can better access how well they understand.

Inform them of the risks of fishing from a slippery bank, fast-flowing water, and dangerous wildlife like snakes. A good idea is to play a ‘spot the danger game,’ where they inform you of any hazards they spot. Education is a lot more interesting when it’s fun.

Toddler boy with a kid's rod and reel combo at the edge of a lake playing while learning how to fish.

Watching Kids While Fishing

Always keep a close eye on your kid while fishing. Here are a few rules worth following:

  • Keep a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) on your child when around the water.
  • Never let your kid out of your sight.
  • Keep them within arm’s length so you can snatch them away from possible danger.
  • Don’t get distracted if you are fishing too. Your goal is to teach them and keep the fun level high. That requires focus.
  • Take a CPR class and get certified.
  • Keep your cell phone handy and stay within the signal range of cell towers.

Fishing Is Physical

Fishing helps with the physical development of your child. Fisherman will tell you; it’s not just a simple case of hooking a fish and reeling it in.

Hand-to-eye coordination skills are involved in fishing. Learning skills of dexterity are fundamental to a child’s development, and the sooner they master them, the better. What better way to learn these skills than through fishing? It’s certainly a fun way for a child to improve physically.

Balance is another skill that can be quickly learned by your kid, especially when fishing from a boat.

The Excitement of the First Catch

Three boys fishing from a dock. The youngest holds up his first catch.

Now, I don’t remember my first catch. I’m sure it was on a cane pole with a worm dangling below a porcupine quill float. I fished with that setup for a few years before my dad bought me a Zebco rod and reel combo. That Zebco setup is still in my parents’ garage along with other rods and reels from my youth.

Well, anyway, my dad probably helped me land my first fish though it could have been my mom. She was right there with us. You should be there helping your kid through that first catch too.

The excitement and joy on your kid’s face when they hook their first fish is a memory that you’ll keep forever.

It’s also a way for your child to develop confidence and self-esteem.

How To Keep Fishing Fun for Kids

Two girls at a lake. The older girl fishes while the younger one explores at the water's edge.

How Long Should Your Trip Last?

As mentioned earlier, once your kids are hooked, no pun intended, you’ll find they want to spend more and more time fishing with you. Take your time, you know as well as I do, kids can get bored very quickly. When starting out, it’s best to limit your fishing trips to a couple of hours, then build up over time.

Keep It Fun

  • Have patience. Your kid is learning and will be turned off if you’re impatient or angered. Snags, tangles, and lines caught in trees are all expected. I’ve even seen kids drop their pole in the water when casting.
  • Tell your child about your fishing trips when you were little.
  • Tell some dad jokes!
  • You’re in the great outdoors, surrounded by great beauty. The animals, dragonflies, trees, and sounds of nature are all things that can keep your child’s mind occupied if fishing is slow.
  • Do your best to scout out a fishing spot with plenty of fish before you go with your kid. A big fish is not what you’re looking for. Catching a lot of little bream will be much more fun. My first fish was bream. Numerous small fish provide great practice.
  • Take breaks.
  • Bring snacks and/or a meal and don’t forget something fun to drink.

Essential Fishing Gear for Kids

Fishing bobber in the water.

Keep it simple. The last thing you want to do is overcomplicate things or confuse your budding fisherman. Your kid needs to master the basics of fishing without getting frustrated. Bobbers and bait are an easy start.

I recommend a shorter cane pole, bobber, hook, and worm. Less chance of snags, tangles, or lines getting caught in tree branches.

Can’t find a cane pole or want to start with a kid’s rod and reel? There are some great lightweight, colorful models for kids that are surprisingly easy to use. Don’t get an adult model. It will be too hard to use. I’ll be buying a pretty pink one for my daughter after she has mastered the cane pole.

You’ll want your child to feel the part, so a tackle box would be a great addition to the trip. Make sure it’s equipped with everything your beginner needs and ample space to add things as their interest in fishing grows.

Snap-on bobbers are fantastic for kids, especially the very young ones. They don’t have to be tied. Bobbers also add to the excitement. Your kid will be able to see when the fish bite.

Try to get bobbers in fun colors and pick a variety of shapes to swap out every 20 minutes or so. Looking at the same bobber for hours will get boring for your kid. And get ones that glow or light up if you’re fishing at night. Those are a lot of fun for kids.

When purchasing a fishing net get a catch-and-release-style net with a clear rubber net bag. This lessens the chance of hooks getting caught in the net, and more importantly, it doesn’t harm the scales of the fish.

Dress appropriately for the weather, bring the Ten Essentials for Outdoor Adventures, and always play it safe by equipping your child with a fishing life jacket.

Don’t forget to take photos of your child’s first catch!

Man teaching his daughter to fish at the ocean. The graphic reads... Introducing Your Kids To Fishing.
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