There’s nothing better than sharing your favourite hobbies with your kids. However, while it might be too soon to take the kids out snowmobiling or backcountry hiking, there’s no need to wait to plan your first family fishing trip. Kids can start fishing as early as preschool, making fishing the perfect family bonding experience at any age.
Check Licensing Requirements
You probably already have a fishing license for yourself, but do you know if your kids need one? Fishing license requirements vary by state/province, so be sure to check your target area’s requirements and purchase fishing licenses if needed. If you’re not ready to buy a fishing license, check your area’s free fishing days. These are days you can go fishing without a license. Free fishing days are ideal for families who fish only once or twice per year and that live in a particular area.
Keep it Simple with Kid-Friendly Fishing Equipment
Set your kids up for success with age-appropriate fishing equipment. A pre-spooled rod-and-reel combo is ideal for kids who are just learning the sport. Fatherly also recommends snap-on bobbers, soft lures with single-hooked jug heads, and a tackle box that kids can call their own.
Don’t forget the PFD! Whether you’re fishing from the shore or heading out on a boat, a personal floatation device is essential for kids. However, it’s not enough to buy a PFD that’s rated for kids; you also need to ensure it fits correctly. A PFD is well-fitted if you can pick your child up by the shoulder straps without it slipping over their chin and ears. You can learn more about how to properly fit a personal flotation device at AceBoater.com.
Other kid-friendly gear to buy before your trip include sunglasses to protect against fishing hooks, a hat and sunscreen to prevent sunburn, and a first aid kit.
Scope Out Your Fishing Spot
If you’re fishing from the shore, give your fishing spot a once-over before setting up camp. Are there fishing hooks laying around or fishing line that small children could get tangled in? What about loose boards on a fishing pier, broken glass, or poison ivy? Clearing potential hazards will allow you to enjoy your family day out with less worry.
Practice Water Safety
In addition to life jackets, kids require constant supervision around water. It doesn’t take long for a curious child to wander into water, where they can get carried away by swift undercurrents. Ensure there are enough adults to provide adequate supervision and remind kids to stay close.
Water safety is especially important when taking kids out on a fishing boat. A boat is a great way to access the best fishing spots, especially when paired with a high-quality trolling motor that lets you navigate waters swiftly and quietly. However, boating with kids also comes with increased safety concerns. Ensure you have the required safety equipment, including life jackets, a whistle, and a fire extinguisher, and give kids a boat safety talk before boarding.
Lower Your Expectations
Don’t expect your first family fishing trip to be relaxing. Most likely, taking kids fishing will feel like a lot of work. However, fishing as a family isn’t about instant gratification. It’s about sharing an experience that will strengthen your relationship for years to come. Before you know it, you’ll be fishing alongside your adult kids and sharing tales of the good old days.
Whether your kids are 5 or 15, it’s always a good time to start a family fishing tradition. Fishing is simple enough for kids to enjoy and a great excuse to get outdoors. Even if you’re not much of an angler, planning a family fishing trip is a great way to learn together and bond as a family.