How to Take Your Kids FishingPublished on 05/17/2023 · 7 min readTaking your kid fishing allows you to spend time together making memories. Fishing Expert Christian Nelson shares his best suggestions for you and your children.
Photo by Luke Brugger
Maybe the experience isn’t universal, but my best memory as a kid was a family fishing trip with my dad. He was the first one to introduce me and my brothers to fishing. I was instantly hooked, and I have been ever since. That being said, I don’t think it was particularly pleasant for him, between tying knots, baiting hooks, and occasionally getting snagged with an unpleasant hook to the head—he had his hands full. But he always took us anyway and looking back now, those were some of the best times of my life. Taking your kid fishing is something that allows you to slow down and spend time together making real memories. Whether you’re wanting to sit by a pond and introduce your kids to fishing for the first time, or get a charter boat and show them why you’re hooked on fishing, your kids are sure to love it!
Wetting a Line
If you have never taken your kids fishing, it’s really easy to get that first trip underway! First things first, you’re going to need some fishing gear, as well as a license and registration, if you don’t have either of those already.
Rod and Reel
Buying your kid their own rod and reel can do a lot to get them excited about going fishing! I recommend a simple children’s spin-cast rod and reel. They make these themed with various cartoons, which is more than enough to get most young kids stoked! For slightly older kids, anything over 9-10 years old, I recommend a spinning combo. A 6’6” medium rod and a 2500-3000 size reel paired together in a combo like this one will work perfectly, and I’d be happy to make some recommendations!
Once you’ve got a rod and reel covered, the absolute easiest way to get started fishing is with a bait setup. This consists of a 1.5-2 inch cork or bobber, a small split shot weight, and a size 7 panfish hook. Simply slide the cork over your main line, then tie on your hook at the end of your line, and cut the excess. Once you’ve done that, clip on your weight 3-6 inches above the hook. Adjust the cork up and down your line to control depth!
Some great baits to use on this rig are minnows, worms, crickets, or even dough and bread balls. I prefer live bait over the alternatives. This is going to let you target bream or bluegill, as well as the occasional bass and catfish, and makes for a great day of shore fishing. Targeting smaller fish like this is what I consider to be the easiest way to teach and learn fishing.
Now that you’ve gotten all the gear, bait, and tackle you’re going to need, you just need a place to take the kids! For this, I recommend you do a little bit of scouring for a great place to fish.
Firstly, be sure to check your state’s resources for great places to fish, and see what facilities some local areas offer! When taking your kids fishing, you want them to have fun, and that means catching fish. If you take your kids somewhere fish aren’t biting, sitting in the sun doing nothing can get old quickly and lead to a bad day for everyone. Beyond that, if this is their first time fishing, this will create an impression of fishing that they’ll hold onto for a long time.
I highly recommend finding a well-stocked pond for your first fishing trip with your kids, but things like fishing piers can also be great. Catfish and trout farms are great examples of perfect places to take your kids for the first time. You will have to pay to fish in these kinds of places, but they guarantee an action-packed trip! State lakes often have piers for kids to fish from, and give you a chance to see some other wildlife while you’re out there. If you can’t find one of these anywhere locally, check around for state parks that have lakes, local kids’ fishing rodeos, or even ask friends and relatives with ponds if you can bring the kids to fish along the shoreline. Most people don’t mind letting some young anglers fish their water, and ponds like these often host great populations of bluegill and catfish!
So now you’ve got the gear and you know where you’re going, all that’s left is to make it a great day! There are a few things you can do to make sure everyone is having a great time. For one, pack some extras! Having a few chairs, a cooler with snacks and drinks, and a radio or BlueTooth speaker can make this feel like an event. Not to mention, this will go a long way to keeping the kids happy. Some other things to pack are bug spray, sunscreen, and possibly a good camera if you have one, but these days, a phone will more than suffice. With all that in mind, you should be well on your way to having an awesome day with your kids!
Stepping it Up
If your kids are a bit older or have been doing this kind of fishing before, it might be time to let them experience some more serious fishing! I think the best way to get a kid into fishing is just to let them have a great time, and a charter boat will definitely accomplish that. This can often be tied into a vacation, but there’s also more than likely some variety of this near you. Fishing from a charter boat means hiring a skilled and experienced guide to take you out for a day of fishing. Saltwater charter boats can be found all over the coast, very easily, and are one of the most popular ways to charter.
Offshore trips are super fun, and most kids will be able to handle it just fine and have a blast! These trips are great because not only is the fishing exciting, but the whole experience is. Your kids will love the boat ride just as much as they enjoy the fishing. That being said, the fishing is rarely dull offshore, with you often getting bites as soon as the hook hits the bottom. This is also a great time to take some pictures—reaction photos of your kids trying to reel in a big fish are faces that can’t be recreated!
For younger children, an inshore trip may be best. Inshore trips can be just as fun and often allow for a smaller boat and a more one-on-one feel with the captain. Staying inshore still allows you all to catch some new fish while exploring beautiful waters, as well as the opportunity to catch some big ones, without the possibility of harsh seas or rough conditions.
Hire a Guide
If you don’t happen to live near the coast, you probably still have some great guides in your area! Bass fishing and fly fishing guides are popular throughout the United States, so look around and see if there’s a guiding service or outfitter somewhere nearby. These trips can be just as fun and rewarding, and surprisingly educational. These guides are almost always eager to teach something new and will create great experiences for your kids!
Regardless of which guided experience you choose, make sure you pack a few key things to make the most of your trip! On these trips, gear and tackle are provided, but lots of other necessities are not. If you plan on going offshore, be sure to bring Dramamine for seasickness. Having your kids take one the night before the trip and one the morning of the trip can make all the difference in having a great day! Sunscreen is a must for all of these trips, as well as water and snacks! Some guides will provide lunch on full-day trips, but check with them before you decide not to pack any.
Whether you’re wanting to take your kids on their first-ever fishing excursion or just introduce them to a new kind of fishing, I hope I gave you some great ideas! Taking your kids fishing is one of those things they’ll remember for the rest of their lives and for good reason! Taking the time to do things like this can do a lot to break the monotony of our everyday lives and spend time together.