1. Start small: Find a small lake or stream known for its ample fish, no matter what the size. Remember the fun for beginners is to catch any fish, not necessarily the “biggest.”
2. Keep it short: Select a fishing spot close to home so the excursion can be brief. Before the teenage years, two hours of fishing is more than enough.
3. Make it simple: A push-button spin-cast reel is the ideal starter reel for a child. The rod should be a short medium action rod no longer than the height of the child, usually less than five feet. The line should be 8-pound monofilament, which will cast lures well yet be strong enough to hold many species of fish suitable for a child. Artificial lures, rather than worms, provide some advantages as they stay on the line without having to constantly rebait a hook. But if it takes live bait to catch fish on a given day, use it.
4. Wait for good weather: Adults don’t enjoy fishing when it’s rainy and cold, or sweltering hot. Neither do children. You may want to bring a change of clothes and dry socks even if the weather looks good, just in case. Be ready for an alternative activity on that day if
the weather is bad.
5. Take pictures: Bring a camera along to capture the moment. Kids like to be part of the
action, so let them take some of the pictures of the outing as well.
6. Think safety first: A life jacket, mosquito repellent, and sunscreen should be at the top of
the list, along with a first-aid kit. Debarb the hooks. It only takes a few seconds to take a pair of pliers and squeeze down the barb on the hook. The child will catch just as many fish (although a few may slip off), and it is much easier to remove that hook from a finger or arm without the barb holding on to the flesh (maybe your own). Don’t forget that fish have sharp spines and/or fins that children need to watch out for. Be sure to discuss safe water issues as well. Water can be very inviting to children, so make certain they know this spot is for fishing not swimming.
7. Listen: Pay attention to what is on your child’s mind. You may be surprised by what this young person has to say. Whenever possible, do try to ground your discussions on nature and its many wonders.
8. Celebrate the outing. Enjoy time spent outdoors with children.