Fishing can be a fun, family bonding experience, but it has to be approached with common sense. You have to remember that children have a limited attention span and you want to make the experience exciting and memorable for them. You’ll want to initially target Pan Fish (Blue Gill, Crappie, and Perch); they are easy fish to catch and they respond best to bobber fishing. Bobber fishing is easy for children to understand and every fisherwoman remembers the thrill of the first time her bobber was pulled under water by a ‘trophy’ fish.
Basically, bobber fishing is fishing with the use of a float (this can be a traditional white and red bobber or even a plain cork). When the bobber disappears below the water it’s an indication you have a fish on the line. This is a signal to set the hook and pull back on the rod. The drag on the line has to be set appropriately. To test if you have the correct amount of drag on your line put your fingers between the line and pull slowly. The line should release (pull) fairly easily.
Your child needs children’s equipment. Use push button spinning reels with small rods. Barbs on the fishing hook should be pinched down because they are easier to remove from the fish’s mouth and won’t harm the fish if you are doing catch and release. If the fish swallows the hook just cut the line as close to the hook as possible. A typical fish can digest a hook within two weeks.
Have your child practice casting in the backyard before you take her out on the water. The cast on a push button spinning rod is fairly easy, but does require a certain about of coordination. Once your child can cast, they can fish. Always supervise your child on the water and never, under any circumstances, leave a child alone on the water. One hour of fishing is a good amount of time for any youthful beginner.
Remember, safety first. Always put your children in a life vest. Accidents can happen quickly on the water. And make sure to have your child wear eyewear and a hat. If you’re not a fishing family the Fish and Wildlife Department often runs fishing programs for children at no cost. Unlike many sports, fishing is an activity that will last your child a lifetime, and thus, may be an excellent investment of your time and money. Questions? Comments? Send them to Trix.