Fishing with kids can be trying. But how you handle it will either make your kids hate fishing with you, or it will become one of their absolute favorite things.
I loved every opportunity I had to go fishing with my dad. Looking back, I know I was a pain in his butt most of the time. And he probably would have had much more success and maybe more fun had he left me at home. But those times were great. And I think I know why. It was because of how he treated me. So, based on what I remember about fishing with my dad, here are my tips for fishing with kids.
If you can’t be patient with a kid, don’t even bother attempting to fish. They will ask a million questions. They will tip over your tackle box. They will snag $6 spinnerbaits on logs 5 casts in a row. And if you blow up at them, they will hate fishing. Just remember that they’re out of their element. Before long, they’ll soak up all your knowledge and they’ll start doing things the way they should. If you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded with a life-long fishing buddy.
2. Don’t Focus on Results
Fishing with a kid is less about filling a stringer and more about spending time together. And keep in mind that fishing is a lot like baseball. You fail a lot. Most casts you don’t catch a fish. Heck I’ve gone hours or even whole weekends without getting a single bite. If you teach a kid that fishing is ONLY about catching fish, they’ll feel like failures. Enjoy the time you have to sit and talk. Soak in nature. Use it as an opportunity to talk about things you normally don’t get to talk about. Don’t focus on results.
3. Don’t Force It
Hate to break it to you, but some kids never get over thinking worms are gross. Some kids don’t ever want to stand waist-deep in weeds. Some kids will never be able to pull a hook out of a fish’s mouth. If you get one of these kids, don’t force them to like fishing. Find something way to bond with them. Force them to fish and they’ll resent you and they’ll resent fishing, because it took you away.
4. Start Slow
One of my absolute favorite memories with my dad was a 10-day fishing trip in Canada. But that was only after I had fished with dad for a long, long time. Had we started with that trip, I would have been left to fend for myself in the great north woods. Your first fishing trip with a kid should last no longer than one or two hours. Anything more and you’re pushing your luck.
There are other tips, but these are the things my dad did that made fishing one of our very favorite things. How have you made fishing with your kids enjoyable?