Fishing With Kids: How to Make Them Happy, Age by Age

Fishing is an excellent way to bond with your kids while soaking in some quality outdoor time. But younger kids can’t always handle all of the complexities of fishing. The good news? You can ensure that you — and your children — get the most out of every fishing outing if you keep their ages in mind and make a plan.

Toddlers & Preschoolers: Along for the Fun

Taking a child under 5 fishing is an exercise in patience — it’s less about actual fishing and more about manipulating and interacting with the outdoors. Most importantly, make sure you’re prepared for your little fishing companion to want to splash, throw rocks, paint with mud and catch frogs instead of fishing. There aren’t many preschoolers who would be content to sit around waiting for a bite, and you’ll probably really regret it if you try. In fact, you’ll probably do most (if not all) of the fishing duties, and you’ll also likely stick close to home instead of planning a full-fledged vacation that centers around fishing. Look for small ponds or rivers with easy access for the best results. However, even the littlest guys can have some fishing success, especially if you use gear that works best with small hands. You’ll witness their sheer delight when a fish is caught!

School-Aged Children: Getting More Involved

Although it depends on your child’s temperament and abilities, school-aged children can be introduced to the more specific aspects of fishing, including finding bait, baiting a hook and casting a line. Of course, you’ll want to take your child’s individual temperament and personality into account, and make sure you’ve brought along a fully-stocked first aid kit if things go astray, but elementary-school aged kids can and want to be part of the action. Taking them on an actual, fishing-centric vacation is doable at this point, but you’ll still want to make sure that there are plenty of other things to do while you’re away from home — that is, don’t expect to fish 24/7, unless they totally want to. And even then, their minds can and will change, so prepare to make plans on the fly.

Older Kids: Experts-in-the-Making

You can take off for an outdoors adventure vacation when your kids are older, and you can focus on the best fishing ever without worrying they’re going to jump in a lake or try to eat worms. Even kids as young as six can become expert anglers, and as they get older, their skills become even more impressive. Some of the best fishing spots are pretty remote, so make sure you stay connected with a satellite phone — this way you don’t have to worry about reaching out if you need help, or if you simply want to connect with family back home. It’s an excellent idea to have your children help you plan out your trip. Have them research areas you haven’t been to before, and sort out what types of bait and which methods are best in those particular places. You may find a new favorite fishing spot, and plotting out next year’s adventure will be something you look forward to each year.