Fishing is one of the oldest pastimes around the world. Whether it’s between a father/mother & child, grandparent & grandchild or as a whole family, teaching a kid to fish can be some of the most precious moments of a lifetime. We are here to give you some tips on how to make that first fishing trip safe, fun and exciting.
You can find fish in just about any body of water in Florida, no matter how small. Granted fish found in smaller neighborhood ponds or under recreational bridges will likely not be edible, true fishermen or kids who love the sport will simply care about the thrill of the catch!
Rules and Regulations
Before you can take your children to the nearest fishing hole. Be sure you have a legal fishing license for all members. All adults who plan to fish will need to get a recreational fishing license. Any child 15 and under will not require a license, but if you are taking a child that is 16 or older with you to fish, they will be required to have their own independent fishing license.
Licenses can be long term, short term, annual, freshwater, saltwater, resident or non-resident. There are also licenses based off the form of fishing: vessel, shoreline or structure fishing. Specific species and locations require additional permits to be fished legally like; Snook, Spiny Lobster, Gulf Reef Fish, etc.
Be sure to know where you plan to fish so if you don’t already own a license you can get the correct one(s). Proper licensing could include freshwater license, saltwater for state & federal waters or saltwater for shoreline & structure fishing.
8 Simple Steps
Most adults who enjoy fishing and have grown up angling with their parents, can’t wait to teach their own kiddies how to fish. If you are one of these parents, here are some great tips on how to teach your children how to love fishing just as much as you do!
1. Find the Right Location
Make sure you go to a place where fish can surely be caught. Kids can get bored easily, especially while learning a skill that requires patience. In the beginning it is important to visit spots with plenty of fish for the catching.
2. Pack the Essentials
You will want to organize your gear beforehand. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks and water, as well as the proper gear for the
fish species you are targeting. Having the right bait, lures and line can make or break a fishing trip!
3. Be Safe
Nothing can ruin a fishing lesson faster than a child who doesn’t feel safe. If you are fishing off a boat or in deep enough water where your child can’t swim safely, or if you child can’t swim at all, they should always wear a life vest. Now-a-days life vest companies have made life jackets very slim and more comfortable, so no child should feel uncomfortable.
Being safe also includes using beginner rods, hooks and bait. Important things to get across include: watch your surroundings when casting, keep your hands away from the sharp hooks and be wary of the water. Keeping your eyes on the children as they fish is by far the most important safety rule. An adult should always have their eyes on the children to ensure proper safety rules are being followed.
4. The Gear Overview
Luckily, children are naturally curious. So be upfront with them. Tell them how to use the equipment and help by demonstrating, yourself. Young children who have never fished before tend to do better with simple gear. Use cheaper artificial bait and start off with spin tackle. This form of casting will be the simplest to teach, with the release of a single button.
5. Teach Proper Casting and Rod Handling
Teach by showing your children how to cast, reel and hold the rod. For smaller children we suggest teaching them how to cast using the side-arm technique. Over the head casting is dangerous and may be too difficult for a youngin to attempt. Be sure each child knows to be aware of their surroundings when casting. They need to be aware if someone is too close to them, if their line is tangled and to make sure the hook lands in the water.
Holding and gripping the rod is another important skill. Having a tough grip on the rod is important, especially for children. Depending on the fish you are targeting, if large enough, they can possibly yank the pole right out of a younger kids hand. Show your children the proper way to hold the rod and how to keep it out in front of them in a way that they can still hold it tight and begin to reel when a fish bites.
6. Reaction Time is Everything
The reaction one takes to a bite can determine if the fish will be landed or swim off with your bait and/or hook. A perfect learning experience can come from teach your kids how to react when the line starts to pull.
Having a knee jerk reaction can cause the fish to jump off the hook or bite the line and take your bait and hook with it. When the line starts to pull for the first time, it could be beneficial for you to take over to show your kids the proper way to react.
Teach them to slowly start reeling in the line and tugging slightly as they reel. Too big of a jolt will knock the fish off and too gentle of a tug can allow the fish to snatch the bait right off the hook and swim away with a nice snack.
7. Removing The Catch From The Hook
If you are catching fish that aren’t good table fare, we urge you to remove them from your hook, humanely and drop them back into their habitat. If you plan on eating your catch be sure that you are fishing during open season and keep to the regulated size and bag limit. Regardless, this is a perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to remove a fish, safely, from the hook.
For younger children, you may want to remain the sole hook remover. However, if your kid shows excitement in learning this skill, feel free to have them help remove the fish, making sure that they always wear a pair of gloves.
8. Make For A Great Time
And probably the most important, MAKE IT FUN! Most kids can get bored rather easily, so making learning how to fish fun, will be key. If you are in a place or on your own vessel where music can be played, the sounds of their favorite music could keep them in the moment enough to enjoy the patience it takes to learn this lovely sport.
Having plenty of snacks, drinks, bait, music, conversation and a highly populated fishing location can make teaching your kid how to fish a fun experience. Answer all of their questions and having some marine related trivia and other knowledge can help keep your kids attention on their fishing lesson.
The Oh so Important Checklist
Now that you have the basic steps down, here is a general checklist to help make sure you are fully prepared.
- Wear comfortable clothing, appropriate for the expected weather.
- Bring various forms of sun protection: sunscreen, sun glasses, hats and even long sleeves if preferred. If your boat doesn’t have a built in cover, you can buy and bring a large umbrella to provide more shade for your children.
- Warm water can bring pesky bugs so be sure to bring bug spray for prevention and ointment for bite relief.
- Pack a first aid kit. Kids on their first fishing trips can catch themselves on hooks or fish barbs, etc. Better safe than sorry!
- Bring plenty of tackle to match your targeted species and fishing style.
- For those fishing for food, bring an ice chest to freeze your catch.
- If you plan on using natural bait, bring easy and universal baits like worms, shrimp, crickets, etc.
- Pack plenty of food and drinks. Snacks, sandwiches, water and juices are all big winners!
- At first it may be best to find a location near home, so the drive doesn’t tucker any of the little ones out before fishing begins.
- If you’re fishing from a boat or wading with small children who can’t swim, ALWAYS bring enough life vests for each participant.
- Until the kids truly know how to fish, it is safe to say that you should only bring however many you can safely handle. An adult’s eyes should always be on the children.
- Bonus: bring a toy or something that might keep your child’s attention if they get frustrated or get tired of fishing.
Some kids take to fishing much easier, while others may make you want to pull your hair out. We hope this How-To Guide will help make teaching your little squirts easier than ever. Take the time to really teach your children to fish the right way, while making it entertaining and safe. Marine life is interesting to children so having some cool trivia in your back pocket could really come in handy to keep their attention piqued.
Happy Boating...and Teaching!