For quality time with your family, there's nothing quite like spending a day fishing together. It's a great way to instill a love for the outdoors in your kids, inexpensive and fun.
With many families heading out fishing this summer, the Idaho Fish and Game reminds adults there are a number of things to keep in mind when taking youngsters to make it a happy outing for everyone.
" Kids grow up fast, so make it fun, be positive and treasure the time spent together outdoors,” said Phil Cooper, Fish and Game conservation educator in Coeur d’ Alene. "Consider it as an investment - do it right and payback time will come years later when they take you fishing."
To help ensure your youngster's fishing trips are not their last, Fish and Game provides the following suggestions:
Keep it short - The younger the child, the shorter the attention span. If the fish aren't biting, don't keep them chained to their fishing poles or held hostage in a boat. Allow some breaks for rock skipping, swimming, enjoying some beach time, catching frogs - whatever keeps them happy and lets them enjoy the outdoors.
Keep it simple - Short poles and closed-face reels are good choices. A small tackle box with a few small hooks, a few 1-inch bobbers and sinkers is all you need to get started. If bait is used, encourage them to bait their own hooks. Let them practice with plastic worms. Eventually, they'll get used to the idea of doing it themselves.
Be patient - Accept that they may not keep quiet and they probably will get a few tangles. The quickest way to turn children off to fishing is to get frustrated with them. Keeping the outing short - under an hour for beginners - and ending on a cheerful note before anyone gets crabby will set you on course for cultivating a lifelong fishing buddy.
Keep them happy - Pack a cooler with sandwiches and lots of snacks, including a treat that usually is not allowed at home. Snacks can help break up moments of frustration and will keep the kids interested.
Think quantity not quality - Your kids will have a lot more fun reeling in several easy to catch stocked trout rather than waiting all day for a 5-pound lunker to bite. Finding a well-stocked pond or lake is essential to hooking youngsters to fishing. Fish and Game's "Take Me Fishing" trailers are currently making appearances at well-stocked fishing holes close to home. Basic fishing equipment can be checked out for free on a first-come, first-served basis and knowledgeable staff is available to help you. For a list of scheduled events in your area, visit: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=80.
Take the essentials - Be sure to take sunscreen, bug repellant, a few Band-Aids and a fishing license if required. Resident youth 13 years old or younger do not need a fishing license, but those 14 years and older are required to have a license in their possession while fishing.
Remember it’s not all about catching - Making memories is what’s important. Capitalize on moments to teach them what you know - tell them about birds, plants, bugs, and fish. Kids remember these things and find them interesting. Also, never judge your success by the number or size of fish you catch. Cherish the memories you make together.
Leave it better than you found it - Remember to pack out your garbage and encourage the kids to pick up too. These lessons mold responsible and conscientious anglers helping to ensure the future of our sport.