Taking a kid fishing can be rewarding, but less so if that kid is cold, hungry, insect-bitten, bored, frustrated or beholden to an adult who can’t put down their own fishing rod.
“Fun and safety are the most important considerations while bringing kids fishing,” said Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Kids love to fish. But when kids start out, adults need to be patient as they teach how to free tangled lines, tie on and bait hooks, and take fish off the line.”
To keep kids interested, use live bait to catch smaller fish like bluegills that tend to bite frequently. Smaller hooks and lighter line that match the size of the fish will increase the odds of catching something. Remember to congratulate kids on catching any fish, no matter the size, and take photos to capture the moment.
“A lifelong interest in fishing can be ignited or extinguished in a few introductory fishing trips,” Ledermann said. “And let’s face it, kids have plenty of competing ways to spend their time these days. That’s why it’s so important to have a game plan before heading out.”
Shore fishing can be a good way to start because if a kid gets bored, it’s easier to take breaks. When considering a location, choose one that is comfortable and safe. Look for restrooms, playground equipment, safe access and a public fishing pier.
“Invite a friend or neighbor kids for even more fun. If they lose interest or the weather or fishing is poor, wrap up the outing before it becomes a negative experience and try again another day,” Ledermann said.
Fishing reels, rods and other gear should be simple, appropriately sized and in working order. Consider giving a child their own fishing rod that is easy to handle. Anyone 16 or older who is fishing will need a fishing license. “Fishing doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Nonetheless, be prepared by packing snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent and first-aid basics,” Ledermann said. “With a little planning, you’re more likely to discover one of the best-kept secrets about fishing – that in the end it’s all about the lessons learned and the time spent together outdoors.”
Adults who want to learn more before taking a kid fishing can find answers to common fishing questions, download a beginner’s guide to fishing and find a place to fish at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn. For information about hands-on programs that teach the basics of fishing, see www.mndnr.gov/takeakidfishing or www.mndnr.gov/bow. Resources for educators can be found at www.mndnr.gov/minnaqua.