Helping Your Kids to Catch Fish: Three Adjustments for Success
Just about every bass angler eventually tries to introduce their children to the fishing, but unfortunately, these attempts often end with frustrated kids and empty live wells. This largely occurs because parents fail to recognize the differences in technique, strategy and approach that are necessary for helping kids to catch fish.
Fortunately, these differences are rather simple, and by making three small adjustments, you can greatly improve your chances of catching fish.
1. Use Simple Fishing Equipment
The biggest impediment standing in the way of most kids and the fish they wish to catch is not technique, knowledge or skill. Instead, it is the amount of time they spend staring at mom or dad, as they work out snags, knots and tangles. Accordingly, you’ll want to limit the number of technical issues that arise while fishing with the kids.
Providing a size-appropriate rod is a good start, but you should also use a simple reel. Spin-cast reels are ideal, as their enclosed design will help eliminate many tangles and allow your child to fish without having to work the bail on an open-faced reel. It is also worth considering cane poles, which are the ultimate in fishing simplicity.
2. Target Easy-to-Catch Species
You surely love to catch bass in your local river or reservoir, but part of the reason you like to do so is because of the challenge they represent. The fact that bass are difficult to catch makes it all the more satisfying when you see a giant bucket mouth rip through the surface.
But fishing with kids is an exercise in eliminating challenges, rather than seeking them out. And one of the best ways to do this is by ignoring the local bass and targeting the fresh water panfish and catfish living alongside them. Blue gills and their sibling species are often very aggressive feeders, and they don’t become spooked very easily either. Catfish may not hang out in one small spot like panfish do, so bites are often more scattered throughout the day. However, they are not terribly discriminating feeders, and you don’t have to worry about much – just set a stinky bait down near some cover and wait for Fishy McWhiskerface to come cruising by.
3. Use Real Bait
You may prefer burning crank baits through deep water or making a topwater plug chug across the surface, but your kids will have better luck fishing with live bait – especially when fishing for panfish and bottom-feeders. Worms are the quintessential fish bait, but crickets, leeches and wax worms are also effective. You can even use baits from your kitchen, such as kernels of corn, doughballs or hot dog slices (which are often quite effective for catching big cats).
Of course, if your kids aren’t satisfied fishing for bluegill and catfish, you can let them take a shot catching a few bass– just be sure to temper their expectations. Swap out the worm, cricket or doughball for a live minnow. This may lead to more snags and longer periods of time between bites, but with a bit of effort, your kids can probably catch a bass or two if the conditions are good.
If you’d like to learn more about the adjustments you can make to help achieve more fishing success with your kids, check out Outdoor Empire’s comprehensive review of the subject.