Fishing With Kids Made Easy
Any outdoor activity with kids can be daunting. Fishing is no exception, especially since there is nowhere to run and throwing them overboard is often frowned upon. Captain Mike Oppegaard, fishing guide at Topsail Island, NC recently shared his approach on taking the younger generation fishing. It means changing the approach, and expectations. It’s all part of beginning a long path to great fishing memories.
Taking kids fishing can be a daunting task at most any age. As a guide or a parent, you’re dealing with a short attention span as well as the overwhelming stimulation that today’s kids receive from video games, TV and other sources. It’s important first to set expectations and work from there. Starting the child off with casting for skittish redfish will likely lead to frustration on the water for everyone. It could also mean that the child will quickly lose interest in the sport and move back to the TV or X-Box. This can easily be remedied by planning these few simple steps to keep both the attention span and interest moving in the right direction.
- Start with the easy stuff. Go trolling for Spanish mackerel or Bluefish. Let the kid drive the boat if it can be done safely. Put out a few lines with Clark spoons and wait on the action. When the rod tip starts to bounce, you’ll have their attention and the fun will begin. The catching of fish of any kind is better than waiting for a fish to respond to a cast in a creek. Also, the constant movement of the boat provides an ever changing perspective for the child.
- Keep the trip shorter. Planning a long day on the water with a young inexperienced child will not work out well. Start with a 4 hour trip and cut it shorter as needed. The heat, necessary patience and repetitive nature of fishing will start to take a toll if you’re out there too long. Remember the goal is to create an enjoyable experience and sometimes less time means more fun.
- Try chumming. This will bring up any number of fish in the chum line that can be caught. You may be surprised what appears. Again, this is another activity that will enable you to maintain the attention of the child.
The best goal is to get the kid to enjoy fishing and he/she doesn’t have to be catching a trophy fish at 12 years old. Give them the basics and let them grow into the more complicated parts of fishing like continuous casting and remaining quite to not spook the fish. Let them take part in the fishing process as much as possible like reeling the lines in to check the baits. Then little by little move them into the next level of the ongoing process of learning to fish. Most of all try to see the fishing trip through the kid’s eyes and don’t overload them with too much too soon. A child rarely has the same skill set as an adult, especially when it comes to knowing how to read the activity of the fish and the fishing environment. Most of all, keep in mind that once a child has a frustrating and boring day of fishing, it will be a while before they return, and those great days of family fishing will be missed. So, be patient, and make it fun for the little guy or girl and it will lead to great memories.