I’m a strong proponent of taking kids fishing and have been for years. I am happy to say the number of youngsters (many of them now adults teaching their kids to fish) I taught to fish are many. As a teenager, I often took my younger nephews and their friends fishing.
I truly believe that fishing comes almost as natural as breathing to most kids, but I also know bad fishing experiences early in a youngster’s fishing career can cause them to revert to watching TV and playing video games. Nothing wrong with either of these endeavors in moderation, but to my way of thinking, many youngsters today spend far too much time setting and not enough time doing.
Just yesterday, I spend the morning hours fishing with four of my grandsons. Trevor and Tyler, the twins, are 9, Luke is 9 and Jack is 5 years old.
Thank goodness, my son-in-law Phillip was able to get away from work and help manage the excursion. Four youngsters are a bit too much for any Gramps.
Remember, when fishing with youngsters there’s lots of baiting, re-rigging, removing fish and giving of instructions and encouragement. Two kids for each adult is a good rule of thumb for those early fishing trips.
We were fishing a pond owned by a good friend and the little fishing hole was teeming with bream, many of which were the hybrid Coppernose variety that often grow to three-quarters of a pound and sometimes a bit bigger.
These fish will put a bow in your fishing rod. Bream are hard fighters on light tackle and the action began as soon as the kids got their baits in the water. We were using the new Berkley “Gulp” earthworm baits that actually stay on the hook better than the real thing.
A jar of the baits costs about the same as a box of nightcrawlers and last three times as long. These tough little imitation earthworms are scent impregnated and will catch everything from sunfish to catfish.
My son-in-law and I were kept VERY busy baiting hooks, untangling lines, removing fish, all the time being exposed to four very loud, adrenaline-charged youngsters. The boys’ conversation went something like this for a solid hour: “Got one over here, Gramps. Daddy, can you take this one off? I’m hung up on that limb, can you get me loose? I want to fish where Jack is fishing.”
After an hour of steady action, I could see the kids needed a break. I KNOW I did!
I asked them to lean their rods against the dock and take a break. This went over like a lead balloon until I asked if they wanted to hop into the back of the truck and take a ride with Gramps looking for deer and wild hogs; they were climbing in before I finished the invitation!
I knew my son-in-law would enjoy a little peace and quiet fishing for bass while I took the youngsters for a ride. Frequent breaks are a must when fishing with kids. They may not admit to being a bit tired, but if you watch them closely, the signs become pretty obvious.
Kids need action and lots of it to keep their interests when fishing. To my way of thinking, fishing for black bass is the worst way to introduce youngsters to the sport. Bass fishing is usually too slow and much too challenging for young kids. Sunfish, catfish or white bass are a much better choice for those formative years.
When fishing with little kids, make sure and take time to let them be kids, not serious fishermen. In the beginning, keep trips short in duration, an hour is a long time for even 9-year-olds to remain focused.
Back home, I filleted all the larger bream and the kids watched my every move, handing me the next fish and making statements such as, “that big one is mine” or, “Gramps, how do you get those fillets off the fish so easy,” or “When do we have a fish fry?”
When taking your little ones fishing, don’t expect too much the first few outings. Use “push button” spin cast rigs that are next to foolproof and do the casting for them until they learn how. Better yet, fish off a dock where they can simply drop baits straight down.
Keep things simple and fun, bring along plenty of snacks and you will soon have a bunch of seasoned veterans on your hands who will come running at the mere mention of a fishing trip!