The image of a father standing behind his child and teaching him to cast a line is as iconic as a Norman Rockwell painting. But any parent that has tried to introduce their kiddo to the sport of fishing knows reality isn't as picturesque. From hooks caught on clothing to tangled lines, it's all worth the memories so get out there and catch dinner with your darlings! Here are some tips:
- Length of trip: The length and location of the fishing trip should be determined by the age of the participants. Wee ones aren't likely to last more than an hour, but engaged kindergartners may sit for quite a while. Local creeks, docks and lakes may be a better fit for these age groups than an afternoon boat trip.
- Choice of rod: When selecting a fishing rod, consider the actual goal of the outing. While there are many fun, character-enhanced rods, a good, ultra-light rod and reel will actually allow kids to bring in a fish, rather than breaking.
- Bait: If worms and squid make your small fry squeamish, consider using cut-up hot dogs, chunks of cheese, dough or cooked corn kernels.
- Casting the line: Position yourselves far away from other anglers, as youngsters tend to be a bit wild when casting their lines. Don't worry if the line doesn't go far, the kids will be just as excited.
- Reel it in: Allow tots to attempt to reel in the fish themselves. It's all about the action, not the result.
- Catch and release: Practice catch and release techniques with your kiddo unless you plan to eat the finned creature. To make the catch more exciting, consider holding the fish in a spacious bucket or container filled with water where children can watch it swim. Then, set it free.
To see more fishing tips, including several safety ones,
- Remember that even though you may only be fishing in a foot-deep creek, each member of your pint-sized party should wear a personal flotation device.
- Carry a first aid kit with medical supplies that can care for all types of cuts, scrapes, bumps, bruises and insect bites.
- Bring plenty of cold drinks (water, juice, etc.) to accompany your snacks. Being on the water in heat will require hydration.
- Wear proper shoes. If you will be fishing on or near rocks, be sure kids wear shoes with good traction and covered toes. This will prevent unnecessary slipping and scraped up feet.
- Be safe in the sun. Aside from reapplying sunscreen on a regular basis, remember to pack UV sunglasses for the kids. The reflection of the sun off of the water can be dangerous for lil eyes. Wide-brimmed hats will also help protect their faces, ears and necks from the sun’s damaging rays.
- Pay careful attention to the ingredients of your insect repellent. While the lotion or spray may prevent bites and stings, some contain DEET, which should not be spread on tot’s skin.