By Jon Sutton, Guest Contributor
Fishing is a great way to spend a little time on your next vacation – especially if you are traveling with your children. Most kids love to pull fish out of the water, and it will give you a great chance for a little family bonding (and it won’t cost you a fortune).
But it is very important that you have success if you want your kids to have fun and look back on the trip fondly. Children are rarely entertained by watching a float bob up and down all day – you have to actually catch fish if you want them to enjoy themselves. This is easier said than done, and, unfortunately, many children end their first fishing trip without any triumphant photos or fish on their stringer.
But you can increase your odds of catching fish with your kids pretty easily. Just follow the four steps outlined below.
1. Use Very Simple Equipment and Tackle
The best way to improve your chances of catching fish is by keeping your bait in the water, so you’ll want to limit technical challenges (which often plague young anglers) as much as is possible. And the best way to do this is by using very simple fishing equipment.
A cane pole is ideal for very young anglers (between about 3 and 6 years of age), as it doesn’t even feature a reel at all. When a fish bites the bait, your child can simply lift it from the water. Slightly older anglers can usually handle a spin-casting or spinning combo, although the kids will initially require a little instruction and practice to get the hang of casting and reeling. Unless you want to spend the entire day dealing with one tangled reel after another, do not let your youngster use a baitcasting set up – they simply require too much practice, skill and finesse for most kids.
2. Target Species That Are Easy to Catch
Bass, walleye and pike may be some of the most charismatic gamefish in North America, and they are among the most popular targets for serious anglers. However, these fish are also somewhat challenging to catch (it is often difficult to simply find them). So, it makes more sense to target easily caught and abundant species when fishing with your kids. Bluegill and catfish are two of the easiest fish for kids to catch, and they are normally abundant in most popular ponds and lakes.
3. Use Live or Real Baits Rather than Artificial Lures
It may be more fun to use jigs or crankbaits, but your child will have much better success using real baits. Worms, crickets and leeches can be used to catch bluegill or catfish, and they are available at most tackle shops. You can also use several items from your kitchen to catch fish, including frozen or canned shrimp, hot dog slices or corn.
4. Fish Early in the Morning or Late in the Afternoon
Not only will fishing during the morning and evening keep your kids more comfortable (and therefore, less likely to complain), it will also improve your chances of catching fish. Most popular game fish become most active during these periods and inactive during the middle of the day or the dead of night.
Of course, you are never guaranteed of catching fish; even professional anglers occasionally come up empty for the day. But if you follow the steps outlined above and keep a positive attitude, you’ll likely have plenty of success and enjoy a great day on the water with your kids.
Want more tips for fishing with kids?
About the Guest Contributor: Jon Sutton loves to spend time in the woods and on the water. His life has revolved around outdoors since his early childhood days when he caught his first bluegill in his local pond. Since then he has grown into a full-fledged angler targeting salmon and bass during his free time. He also enjoys hiking, camping and seeing the world through travel. He is currently a content manager for Outdoor Empire.