13 Great Ideas for Fishing with Kids
To keep them hooked
Published: May 1, 2005
It’s one thing to take the kids out fishing once. How do you ensure they’ll have a good time and want to come back for more?
Photo by Tracey Meyer
We asked nine fishing pros that question. After all, many of them have children and families of their own, plus they have a lot invested in the sport they love. Every one of them cares deeply about passing the sport on to future generations.
To keep kids fishing, the pros recommend that you:
Get bites and catch lots of small fish; don’t chase the lunkers.
Photo by Chris Stroud
“Don’t worry about catching large fish. Use minnows and worms if you have to, whatever it takes to just get bites.”
– Woo Daves (Bassmaster Classic Winner, with 30 top-10 finishes overall)
“Make sure they catch a fish. That gets them excited.”
– Robert Robbins (National Team Pro, Table Rock Lake, Mo.)
“Don’t take them bass fishing. Take them panfishing so they can catch a lot of fish. You show them how to catch, and they’ll get serious real quick.”
– Wally Marshall, aka Mr. Crappie (National Crappie Champion)
Remember that patience is the key.
Photo by Pam Burdick
“Don’t force it on them. Most often, kids left to fish at their own pace are the most successful.”
– Shelley Perry (fishes the Eastern BASS Opens with three Top-50 finishes)
Fish from the dock, not the boat.
Photo by Jean Keegan
“Action and movement are important to kids. Start out by fishing from the dock where they’ll have room to move.”
– Kevin VanDam (First Elite 50 Champion, former Classic Champion and three-time BASS Angler of the Year)
Focus on the experience; don’t make fishing the priority.
Photo by Donald & Debra Niesen
“Don’t burn the kids out on the first day making two thousand casts to catch two little fish. If the fish aren’t biting, change something – the water, the lures, something.”
– Rick Clunn (four-time Classic winner and 28 straight Classic appearances)
“A kid’s attention span is only so long. If he’s lost interest, don’t stay there and push it; come back another day.”
– Woo Daves
Change fishing holes.
Photo by Judy Germain
“Kids have a short attention span. So “changing your spot” is a good excuse to keep a kid interested. Let them drive the boat to a new spot.”
– Charlie Campbell (longtime bass pro and inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame)
“Take them where there are a lot of fish. Then, leave when the fish are biting. That will make them want to come back.”
– Penny Berryman (former Womens World Champion and annual qualifier for the WBFA Classic)
Let the kids do something else.
Photo by Mike & Ann Adams
“When they’re bored, let them do something else, maybe play with fish in the live well.”
– Ron James (co-host of FISH TV on Outdoor Life Network, and FISH TV U.S. on The Outdoor Channel)
“After 15 minutes, if they want to throw rocks or catch frogs, let them! Remember that kids have a short attention span. When they want to be done – quit! Eventually, they’ll want to spend more time fishing.”
– Kevin VanDam
“Bring toys, books, video games. Remember, if they don’t have an enjoyable experience they won’t go back.”
– Shelley Perry
“That reminds me of a family I took out recently. The boy, a 15-year-old, was getting bored. I said, “Ya wanna race?” So he jumped in and raced me with the trolling motor. He was a darn good swimmer, too. Oh, and the kid won.”
– Charlie Campbell
Every year, National Fishing and Boating Week promotes fishing with kids. Check out www.nationalfishingandboatingweek.org for information on attending an event or how to plan one in your community.
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