Fishing is heaps of fun and a great way to spend quality time with your kids and requires preparation, patience, and concentration. It helps kids learn about the food chain and how that relates to the food we eat. If you’re thinking about fishing with kids realise you’ll probably spend most of your time helping them learn the basics like how to cast, baiting hooks and inevitably untangling line. But fishing with your kids can be incredibly rewarding.
When fishing with kids, it's about the kids
If you are a keen angler, you’re probably not going to catch as much when you take your kids along, but if you remember to focus on the kids and teaching them how to fish, the number of fish you catch won't really matter.
Have a goal to make fishing an experience your kids enjoy, so if they get bored and start splashing about in the shallows, try not to get all worked up about how they’re scaring all the fish away. Over time, kids learn that if they’re patient, they’ll catch more fish.
The whole experience about putting a rod in the water and exploring and discovering the world around them is invaluable. Children learn so much more from being physically active, touching and exploring the world around them than being passive observers.
Young children are easily distracted and after only 20 minutes they may have had enough of this fishing thing so think about and plan other activities that can keep them occupied.
A simple bucket and little scoop or net can provide all the entertainment a young child needs, scooping up water, sand, sticks, shells, small wrigglers etc. Let their imagination lead them.
Make your fishing trips an adventure, involve the kids in the planning and get them to think about where they want to go or what sort of fish they might like to catch. Don't forget to pack a camera to snap some great memories.
How old should they be?
If they’re old enough to stand and hold a rod, they’re probably old enough to fish, but you know your kids, their limitations and how they handle new situations.
How ever old they are, please remember you need to pay extra close attention to them around water.
The more they fish, the more they will learn about fishing, using different equipment and techniques, will be eventually old enough to help prepare and maybe even bait their own hooks and release their own fish.
If you have multiple kids, try and go with at least one other adult so one can help with fishing and the other can be a general extra set of eyes and hands. It makes it a lot easier and less stressful to keep everyone happy ( and safe) when you have an extra set of hands on board for your fishing trips.
Where to fish and when?
Whether you prefer freshwater or saltwater, there are heaps of places you can take your kids fishing. Lakes, rivers, creeks, estuaries, the sea, it doesn't really matter, but to make your first trips easier look out for features like railings (on a jetty or fishing platform) or graduated banks.
Try not to choose a cliff face, large rocks, or generally dangerous places as kids like to get as close to the action as possible, and they don't see the dangers until it’s too late.
It’s also a good idea to choose a spot that’s relatively free of snags, kids repeatedly getting snagged is just going to be frustrating for everyone.
Pick your time as mornings generally work well because they have had a big sleep and are ready for an activity.
Choosing a basic fishing kit
A great way to get your kids keen on fishing before you even get to the water is to let them choose their own rod and reel. Head off to an outdoors store and look for a rod this is lightweight, easy for small hands to handle, and usually come in a combo with a spinning reel.
A great way to keep young children or newbies active is by using colourful lures and soft plastics, (the look like imitation fish with a hook in them) Kids naturally want to wind and cast so lures are the perfect solution and it also helps them improve their casting.
If you’re looking to get some gear, check out our basic fishing gear for kids checklist
Keep your kids safe
It goes without saying, but when it comes to children and water keep a very close eye on them at all times. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown. There could be many distractions in a new environment, and with a new activity, so it’s your responsibility to ensure proper supervision both before, during, and after your trip. Talking positively about your trip before you go and enforcing the importance of good listening, behavior and their need to stay close by when you fish will all help.
Choose your day
Choosing which day to go out and check the conditions ahead of time will ensure that your time will be as pleasant as possible. Things to be aware of are strong winds or heavy rain. Consider taking a raincheck if necessary. Remember, your and your kid's safety is paramount.
It’s also a great idea to research the region a little before you decide to visit. Are there any nearby facilities such as cafés, toilets or playgrounds for young kids if needed?
Children will get the most from the experience if you choose an interesting, diverse location. Maybe you could bring a picnic, other activities and make a true family adventure of it!