Planning a fishing trip with your children is a great bonding experience. Do you remember going fishing with your father or whole family as a child? If yes, you’re probably thankful that someone taught you about fishing. How to make sure that your kid likes fishing?
To make fishing fun for kids, you need to have a playful approach. As kids tend to get bored more easily than adults and fishing takes patience – children need side activities to keep them amused and interested in fishing.
I remember fishing being a very fun activity as a child because I got to go with my father, big brother and sometimes even my mother tagged along.
Here are 20 great ways to make fishing fun for your children and keep them interested in it.
1. Focus on the kid, not the fishing
Probably the most crucial advice I can give is that when you’re taking your child fishing, let go of the thought that you want to catch your personal best that day.
If this is one of the first times that you go fishing together, all your attention should be pointed at making it as fun as possible for your kid. This way you’re ensuring, that you have a great fishing partner in the future as they grow older.
You might not have a lot of time for actual fishing on those first trips, but in turn, will make your kid asking to come along next time.
2. Let the kid choose the fishing spot
Choosing the right fishing spot is somewhat of a tricky task. Although you might have a general idea where to go, finding the winning spot usually comes down to trial an error – i.e. you may need to change locations multiple times before finding a good spot by the lake or river.
This is a great opportunity to make the trip fun for your child right from the get-go. Once you get to the general location, why not let your child choose the specific spots where you will fish that day.
Letting your kid choose the locations makes them feel as they are in charge of an epic and adventurous exploration. Just don’t forget to give them some guidelines along the way.
For example: “let’s find a spot along the river, where trees or branches are hanging over the water.” That way, you will lead your child in the right direction without directly saying where you are going. After all, they might be right.
3. Let the kid choose the lure
Once you have reached your location, you need to set up your gear. I don’t know about you, but choosing the first lure at a new location is always exciting for me.
What if you choose the right lure and catch a pike on your first cast? RIGHT? It’s rarely the case, but once it happens – Game on!
So imagine how much your child will appreciate it if you let them choose your lure. Just be careful and don’t let them hurt themselves with the hooks.
4. Learn different species (before and while fishing)
Educating you kid about different species of fish along the way is both useful and fun.
For one, it gives them a greater knowledge base and understanding about species and food chain. This, in turn, might someday help them ace a test in school.
And two, it’s simply fun to look at different species and, for example, visualize how big they can grow.
You can teach about every new species you catch that day and give a little backstory, what they eat and how big they grow.
But it’s also a fantastic idea to take it even one step further and buy an educational reference chart about freshwater fish species. You can grab a laminated reference chart from Amazon.
5. Buy a kid’s fishing rod
When your child is 4-5+ years old, they are very eager to learn and try new things. At that age, kids can form memories that last a lifetime.
If your child has been with you a couple of times on fishing trips and seems to enjoy it, you might want to think about buying their first fishing rod.
It will definitely be a huge accomplishment and have a great impact on their fishing interest.
Depending on the age of your child, there are some great options out there:
Ages 4-8: I would suggest to a small and light fishing rod paired with a spincast reel, as these can be learned and used more easily. For those reasons, a great pick would be the kid’s fishing pole by Plusinno, which is available on Amazon.
Ages 9-14: Once they grow out of the small fishing rod, you would want something bigger that can bigger fish and also longer casts. This is why the Lanaak kid’s fishing pole is a perfect choice. With that, you also get a tackle box and a few lures. You can look at the current price on Amazon.
Ages 14+: If your kid is older than 14, choose a regular size fishing rod and reel set. If they’re mostly interested in pike fishing, go with a 7 ft rod and a 6.3:1 gear ratio reel (read more about choosing the right gear ratio reel in my other post).
6. Buy your kid their own tackle box and lures
This tip corresponds with the last one, as it also involves buying fishing gear for your child. When you decide to go with the fishing sets I mentioned in the previous point, you already have a tackle box for your kid.
How is it fun for a kid to have their own tackle box?
Well, think about yourself when you go to the fishing store to pick up new lures. It’s like you’re in a candy store and wants to have everything. Once you get your new lures out by the water – you can’t wait to try them, right?
The same goes for your kids. It’s probably not the best idea to buy your child expensive Rapala lures as they’re most likely to lose them in the bottom of the water or cast them on high tree branches.
Fill the tackle box with cheap, easily replaceable plastics and they’ll be 100% more excited to go fishing the next time.
7. Make it a game
As children don’t usually have as much patience as you, entertain them with simple games while your fishing. This keeps them from getting bored and you can stay out for longer.
For example, you can play I spy … or who catches the biggest or smallest fish (as this gives both the possibility to win).
It’s also very welcomed if your child comes up with a game – this keeps their mind busy.
8. Take breaks and have a picnic
To make your day out even more fun and memorable, take time to just relax and have a picnic by the water.
You can eat and regain some energy to last longer and take a break from fishing.
If you’re having a picnic near the water, you might want to throw in a ledger rig, as this will increase your chances of catching a decent size pike while your eating and not actively fishing.
9. Explore the surroundings
When your out fishing and have stayed in the same spot for a long time, your kid might get bored. Especially when it’s a bad time of the day and the fish just isn’t biting.
As kids want to explore the surroundings, it’s a good idea to set aside the fishing gear and do something else for a while.
You can either scout for a new location or do other activities like finding different bugs in nature or bird watching.
After all, fishing isn’t all about fishing – it’s about getting out of the daily activities and being in nature.
Exploring the surroundings might also lead to a great new fishing spot you might have not known about otherwise.
10. Target practice at home
When fishing, there’s a lot that can go wrong your fishing gear. One of the most typical things to happen is the tangling of the fishing line. Another discouraging factor is a bad cast – e.g. when it lands in trees or weeds.
Both of these are prone to happen when your kid doesn’t know how to cast correctly.
That’s why it’s a great idea to practice at home. Set up a target and teach your child to cast the right way, so they’ll be better prepared once you go on a fishing trip.
11. Use barbless hooks
Although using barbless hooks might seem like an obvious, it’s probably not the first thing you think about.
Well, it should definitely be at the top of the list.
While it’s not something you want to think about, your kid may hurt themselves with a hook at some point.
By having barbless hooks, you make sure that if it happens, the hooks won’t get too stuck and cause unnecessary pain.
12. Teach how to handle the fish (and how to release)
Knowing how to handle a fish is a very important skill to have in fishing. Hurting the fish may lead to serious injuries or even death.
It’s important to show your child, how to properly unhook a fish so they hurt them as little as possible.
Depending on the child’s age, it might be best if you unhook the fish yourself.
Unless they’re fishing with a simple one-hook rig and catching a small fish – then it’s not a problem.
13. Cast as far as you can
I was recently outside with my nephew, playing in the fall leaves as we stumbled on a fun game.
We found a small pond and started throwing acorns into it. First, it was all about making the biggest splash, then it was about trying to throw as fas as we could.
This got me thinking about a fun mini-game that could be played while fishing with kids.
If you are by a lake or bigger river, make a game out of casting as far as you can and beating your own record with each time.
While it’s important to maintain a proper casting technique, it also gives your child a goal. This keeps them more focused on the fishing.
It’s really important to cheer every cast and give them a sense of accomplishment.
14. Take pictures with fish
When you think about yourself fishing, what’s the one thing you want to do if you catch a well-sized fish? You want to share the experience with somebody.
Usually, this means, that you take a photo of the fish or a selfie with it and send it to your buddies.
When you’re fishing with your child, every catch is an accomplishment. So, why not take a photo of your kid with the fish each time they catch something.
If it gets too repetitive – e.g. they catch a fish with every cast -, take a photo each time they catch a new species or a bigger fish than the last time.
15. Do a fish dance when the kid catches a fish
This tip is very self-explanatory. Do a fish dance – no, not the one like Monty Python – every time your kid catches a fish (to make it equal, you can also dance when you catch something).
It doesn’t have to be 2-minute dance program, but just a fun little celebration.
If this feels silly to you, just think of athletes scoring a goal and then celebrating with a little dance. That’s essentially the same thing. And your kid will love it!
16. Brag about the fish your kid caught (so they want to go more)
Bragging about the fish your child caught on your previous fishing trip is a psychological incentive for the kid to want to go fishing again.
That’s a perfect topic when, for example, your friends and family get together and fishing comes up. Be proud of your child and brag about how they handled the enormous fish they caught.
And as a thumb rule, the fish in your story should always be AT LEAST twice the size it actually was – it’s the real fisherman’s way of talking about their recent catch.
17. Sing fish related songs
Does your child enjoy singing? Then it’s a great opportunity to sing some fisherman songs while you’re on a fishing trip.
Choose something easy and catchy, so that your child can also sing along or make something up on the spot.
Singing is a great pastime for children and keeps them entertained while you’re looking for the right location or setting up fishing gear.
18. Ask them to assist you with a landing net
When you’re packing for a fishing trip, make sure to take the landing net with you. Once you have hooked a fish and are trying to land it, let your kid help you.
Ask them to help you catch the fish by assisting you with the landing net. That way, you’re engaging in teamwork instead of a competition.
It’s also a great idea to help them out with a landing net – even if it’s not a large fish.
19. Make it a family outing
Fishing doesn’t always have to be a 1-3 hour outing where you take only the essential gear with you.
In a previous point, I mentioned, that it’s a good idea to take breaks and have a picnic right by the water.
Well, you can even take it one step further and make it a whole family outing.
I remember quite well the times when I was just a child and we went on two-day fishing trips with my family. Granted, it wasn’t all about fishing – we brought our tent and sleeping bags, had a fire in the evening and enjoyed the nature. And IT WAS FUN!
combining fishing with a mini-vacation is the perfect way to bond with your family and have a common memory.
20. Cook a meal out of the fish you caught
Cooking a nice family meal from the fish, that you have caught, is a FANTASTIC way to end the day.
Think about how proud your kid will be of himself when you sit down at the dinner table and you eat a fish that you both caught. It’s a sincere feeling of accomplishment.
If you mostly practice catch and release, when it comes to fishing, you might want to think about keeping at least one fish that your kid has caught.
In case you don’t have any great recipes in mind and would like to cook a meal for your family – I can help you!
I have put together a list on 10 super simple and healthy pike recipes that would be perfect in this situation. And although these recipes are very perfect with pike, they are very suitable with other white fish as well.
I really hope that these 20 tips help you make fishing more fun for your children and help create some awesome memories together. If you like the article, please be sure to share it with friends who might also be seeking advice on how to make fishing fun for kids.