Teaching Kids to Fish; Three Tips to Consider when Fishing with Kids
The outdoors are calling! In a few short months, the ice and snow will slowly melt away allowing us to enjoy the fresh air. The northern Minnesota lakes, rivers, and streams will open again. The sport of fishing just like any other sport needs to be passed down from generation to generation to continue. Fishing is great because it does not require lots of money, or equipment, it just requires quality time. Here are a few tidbits of advice on how to improve your next adventure fishing with kids.
One of the biggest challenges to teaching kids how to fish is to make sure our mindset and goals are flexible. No amount of sugar coating will hide the facts that teaching kids and others how to fish is hard work. Before even deciding to take a trip, remember that it is okay if a trip becomes a failure. The weather, fish, and equipment will not always work in your favor. Embrace this fact and accept the experience for what it is, a great teaching moment.
The first thing to do is to forget your goal of “going fishing” for yourself. Taking a kid for a boat ride or standing on the shore is much different than actually teaching someone how to fish. Instead of just setting up the equipment for someone, explain and show the different steps that you are performing to get to the result. It may take a few more minutes explaining and showing someone how to tie a leader knot, but that experience will give them something for their “mental tackle box” to use in the future.
To get someone involved, they must take ownership of the activity. One way to start that process is to provide them with something to take care of themselves. Give them a few things that they need to take care of when they are going fishing. One of the first things to give someone learning would be an old fishing pole and reel from your collection. (It may give you a great excuse to use on why you might need a new combo too.) Lots of great organizations exist that may be able to help with setting up new anglers with equipment and experience. Future Angler Foundation (http://www.futureangler.org) events hosted by National Professional Angling Association (https://NPAA.net) members are an excellent source for teaching kids. The kids might even get some free equipment during those events. Another non-profit organization named Fishing for Life (http://fishingforlife.org) also provides learning opportunities for new anglers with their outdoor programs.
Be prepared with a backup. Kids have short attention spans, so a great outing needs secondary distractors if the bite is not hot and fast. Take a few minutes before the excursion to pack up some extra things to fill in the slow bite moments. Some suggestions would be a small bag of toys (young kids) or for the older kids, some electronics in a waterproof carrier. In addition to toys, another great option is to bring extra bait. Not many kids are afraid to get messy, so purchase some extra bait for them. My experience has shown that kids learn fast how to handle bigger fish when they are allowed to play, catch, and hold minnows. Last but not least, keep them well hydrated and feed. No one likes to be hangry and learning a new outdoor activity can be very tiring.
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