Fishing with Kids
This season I've had several highly successful trips with young children on board. So of course I started thinking about what made these trips work out so well. Just like patterning fish behavior, reflecting on successful trips will help replicate that success. Here's what I found...
1. Let the guide know that children will be involved when you book a trip. It allows us to make sure we are set up for the day. I even carry a few smaller rods that are more manageable for the little ones.
2. Understand that the trip changes dramatically depending on the age of the child. I often get asked what my age limit is...I don't have one. However, I am very upfront about how the trip will go. Fishing with young kids needs to be about the experience. I explain that the goal will be a positive, memorable day and not necessarily a "meat haul." It takes a lot of time and attention to fish with children and the associated tangled lines, knots, questions and simply casting. We still plan on catching fish...hopefully lots of them, but mission one should be enjoyment.
3. Keep them engaged. Point out all the cool stuff hardcore fishermen don't notice anymore like a bird on the bank, dolphins cruising, or how to use the fly swatter to "remove" horseflies (welcome to the marsh). When they lose interest, which will happen periodically throughout the day, I find great success in keeping them engaged by making them honorary crew for the day asking them to help drive the boat, lookout for birds, counting fish in the ice chest and so forth.
4. Make every catch a big deal. Take the time to let them see that catfish before throwing it back. Let them release any undersized fish that are safe for them to handle. Another great idea is to let them be the "net man" which is always a highlight. They have probably never heard a speckled trout grunt before or seen the fangs in their mouth. Taking time fore the little things makes for a big day. Don't underestimate your kids capacity for learning.
Just keeping these 4 tips in mind will make your next fishing adventure with the little ones more productive. It really all boils down to the adults having their expectations and goals in line with the age and maturity levels of the children. Our goal should be to foster a love of fishing and the outdoors in our kids and our success should be measured in smiles not limits. The memories will last longer than a few extra fillets.
If you would like me to handle the hard part of making a successful fishing trip with your youngsters, just give me a call and show up ready to making memories that last a lifetime!