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10 Tips for Taking Your Kids Fishing for the First Time

  • 8/6/2014 8:23:00 AM
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10 tips for taking your kids on their first fishing trip from the Iowa DNR

Whether it’s a passion you’re hoping to pass down to the next generation, or just an idea to get the family out of the house for an afternoon, a fishing trip with your kids can be the stuff memories are made of. Keep the experience fun and positive with these handy tips:

1.       Make it fun.
The first thing to remember – adults and kids alike – is that this trip is not about catching fish. It’s about learning how to fish and having a good time. If your kids feel like they’re being lectured about how not to do fishing, they’ll tune you out and lose interest. And they won’t want to make a second trip.

 2.       Keep it simple with easy-to-use tackle.
Just a nightcrawler and bobber is all you need to start. Think small, too – the fish you will likely encounter have mouths about the size of the tip of your finger, so use small hooks, small baits, a quarter-sized bobber and 2- to 4-pound test line.

3.       Give each child a job to do.
Giving your child a responsibility will help them feel like an important part of the trip and help keep them focused.

4.       Give your kids your full attention.
While it’s hard to not want to throw out a few casts yourself, only do this if your kids are content and comfortable fishing on their own. Otherwise, this is their trip – show them the basics and let them know you’re proud of how they’re doing. And, especially for small children, keep a constant eye, as it’s easy for a little one to fall in quickly – life jackets are always a good idea for shore fishing.

5.       Fish for an easy-to-catch species.
Bluegill and crappie are good fish to start with. Check the weekly fishing report before you go for extra help:

6.       Go early in the day when kids are most attentive.
A fishing trip during a skipped naptime is a recipe for disaster. Aim for a morning trip so kids are more focused and when temperatures are cooler.

7.       Keep it short.
An all-day (or week-long) fishing trip may be heaven for you, but keep in mind that kids have shorter attention spans and may quickly lose interest if the trip gets too long. Start with just an hour or two and leave when they start to get fidgety – make sure they remember the positive, fun parts of the trip.

8.       Pack snacks.
Avoid a cranky angler by packing a cooler of sandwiches, easy to eat snacks and lots of water. But make sure there’s a restroom nearby!

9.       Dress comfortably for the weather.
If you start early in the morning, you’ll likely need to dress in layers – bring a sweatshirt or jacket.

10.   Bring a camera to record memories!
Even if they don’t get a fish that day, make sure to get shots of them casting and enjoying the special time spent with you.



Explore more ideas for getting out into Iowa's great outdoors at our Take it Outside blog.

Find more fishing tips and ideas for enjoying Iowa's outdoors via the DNR on Pinterest: