Any Time is a Great Time to Take a Kid Fishing

Will you be taking a kid fishing this Memorial Weekend? There’s fish to be caught in the Boundary Waters and we can put all of the gear together for you, just give us a call, we’d love to see you at Voyageur!

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

How do you introduce a kid to fishing?

Being part of the excitement when kids catch fish can form memories that last a lifetime. But taking kids fishing can present some unique challenges.

Jeff Ledermann knows all about the joys and challenges of taking kids fishing. He was able to start his own daughters fishing when they were just over the age of two. When they were older he helped form a girls’ fishing club after hearing one daughter say after school that “Girls don’t fish.”

Now, Ledermann works with educational programs that help teach kids and others about fishing. As the angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, he’s glad to share some wisdom on how to connect kids with the outdoors through fishing.

What can adults do to make fishing fun for kids?
For the first times out with kids, focus on short and successful outings. Do some research to find a place where fish populations are high and other opportunities exist when kids get bored, such as playground equipment, rock hunting and climbing, or chasing bugs. It’s even better if there are bathrooms close by. Don’t forget to bring snacks and a camera to capture the excitement of that first fish.

How important are those first few times a kid goes fishing?
The first few times are critical. If a child has a really bad experience, it may take a lot of effort to overcome those memories and anxieties. Make it fun and keep outings short. Don’t be afraid to call it a day if they start to get bored, the bugs are bad or the weather is not good.

What are some of the biggest mistakes parents and others make when taking kids fishing?
The biggest mistake I see is that parents lose focus on the kids. As much as we all relish the opportunity to wet a line, fishing with young kids means you may have to give up some of your own fishing time.

What fishing skills do kids need the most help with?
New anglers of all ages need lots of help figuring out how to use fishing equipment. Be sure to demonstrate to them how rods and reels work and give them lots of opportunity to practice. Casting in the yard at hula hoops or other targets is a great way to get kids excited about fishing. The biggest mistake that young anglers make is not keeping a tight line while playing a fish. Teach them to keep their rod tip up. You can make it easier for kids by giving them a rod that is the right size for them. A rod that has a lighter action or more flex also provides more room for error and kids will be less likely to break off. Also be sure to check the drag on the reel so they can manage a larger fish if they catch one.

What safety pointers should people remember?
Safety should be your highest priority. Be mindful of the dangers of being on or near the water. Wearing a lifejacket is the law for kids under age 10 and a really good practice for everyone when in a boat. The other big safety concern while fishing is hooks. That risk multiplies when lots of people are casting. If I have lots of kids in a boat, I minimize casting by having them fish right off the side of the boat or slowly troll the weed edges with small spinners and jigs. For older kids, spinnerbaits are great for casting as the hook is less exposed. I would avoid any casting with treble hooks until kids have more experience.

Any tips for what kids of fish to try for and what gear to use?
Catching bluegills or bullheads is a great way to start fishing with kids. In many lakes these fish are very abundant, but also very small. If you use light line and small hooks with live bait, you will have a good chance at success.

How do you choose where to fish with a kid?
Ask at bait stores, surf the many fishing blogs on the web or ask other anglers where they would recommend taking kids fishing. In the Twin Cities, the DNR’s Fishing in the Neighborhood program manages and stocks several lakes and ponds to increase fishing opportunities. Check out www.mndnr.gov/fin for details.

What should you pack to bring a kid fishing?
Bring enough items so that you’re prepared for all kinds of weather, and distractions if fishing gets tough or kids get bored. We want kids to eat healthy, but I’m not against making the outing special by bringing a favorite treat or stopping by the ice cream shop on the way home. Bring what you think will help make the outing fun. A positive attitude is probably the most important. Your enthusiasm for fishing will rub off on them!

Where can people learn more?
Adults who want to learn more before taking a kid fishing can find answers to common fishing questions, download a beginner’s guide to fishing, and find a place to fish at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn. Resources for educators can be found at www.mndnr.gov/minnaqua.

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Posted in BWCA, fishing

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