6 Tips to Getting Kids Hooked on Fishing

This past week, we went on vacation to visit our nephews and stayed at a lake house. While there, my husband decided to help the kids try fishing. My daughters have been a couple of times, but it was brand new for my nephews. The kids ages ranged from 2 to 7. The five and seven year old were most interested in the experience. Here is what we took away from attempting this activity this week.
Six Tips
1. Kids just want to catch something. Don’t go fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon on your first outing. We were pleasantly surprised that they didn’t care too much about what was on the end of the hook (and why would they); it was the excitement of getting a bite and reeling it in that they were here for!
three kids fish2. To get started, make sure you have the equipment you will need. Basic kid fishing pole is fine. We got the girls theirs at Cabela’s in Hudson, and we bought our nephew one at Target. When picking out the pole, just find one with a simple reel. Fill a tackle box with a bobber, extra hooks and extra line. (Kids will most likely tangle the line when they are trying to learn to cast.) Grab some worms to use as bait. If you don’t like the idea of using worms, power bait is readily available at most sporting goods stores (but be prepared for the smell).
3. When choosing where to go, we suggest just checking out a local pond or lake and look for open areas along the shore that are fairly shallow to catch some easy small fish: crappies, sun fish, blue gills and pumpkin seeds.
4. Some safety tips: When kids are little or unpracticed, adults should cast and bait the hook with a sharp hook on the line. Removing the fish should also be done by an adult. Many of the fish we listed above have sharp spines that can easily cut your hands if you aren’t careful. Give kids wide berth and separate them from each other as much as possible! They may have kid poles but those hooks are serious.
5. I was most worried about the kids staying interested. We played I-spy and observed the wildlife around while we were waiting for a bite. We listened for frogs, watched for birds, counted the fish in the water etc. Keeping them engaged while waiting was key to keeping them from giving up. Once they had a few bites, their cooperation and engagement was high and they could wait longer between bites it seemed like. We took out a paddle boat for our first outing last week, but we caught nothing when the boat was moving; it was much more successful when we were stationary. Being on a boat kept them focused on the activity.
6. The kids also really enjoyed catching minnows with small hand held nets. The two smaller kids (ages 2 and 3) had more success with this activity (with help) and enjoyed being in the water while “fishing”. They would put them in small buckets of water to observe and then release them back into the lake.


Local Spots for Fishing

Do you need a MA recreational fishing license? See here to purchase and learn more.

Looking for other outdoor activity ideas? Check our calendar and our stroller friendly hiking guide.

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