The warm weather means fish are biting. My boys have begun to pull out their tackle boxes and fishing poles. They have taken stock of what they have and what they need, and they have started to point out ponds that they would like to fish this spring.
When I was a kid, my dad would announce a fishing trip, and then he would hand my brother and I an empty coffee can. We would spend the next hour or so, completely engrossed in finding the juiciest worms. Why I haven’t tried this with my boys? But now that I’m thinking of it, it was a genius way to keep us occupied and make us earn that fishing trip.
Once we had a full can, we would grab our fishing poles, untangle the lines, and hop in dad’s truck. Back then, if we were lucky, dad would let us sit in the bed of the truck. With the wind in our hair, we would venture out to some fishing hole that my dad had discovered during his work week as a forester.
Those were the best days. Even if the fish weren’t biting. In the end, a fishing trip, I learned from my dad, is about being together. And really just being together. There wasn’t pressure to talk about anything or even do much of anything besides cast, and every once in a while, if we were lucky, pull a fish in.
Five Tips for Fishing with Kids
I’ve learned a few things along the way when taking my own boys fishing. A lot of what I’ve learned has been through mistakes. We have lost a few too many $20 poles at the bottom of our favorite lake up north. Here is what I know.
1. Be Present
Keep in mind that when you take your child fishing, you are there to spend time with them and to be completely present with your child. This means you may even want to leave your own pole at home. Be aware of your child’s attention span. Is your child up for 30 minutes of fishing? An afternoon? A whole day? As your child grows, so will their attention span, and hopefully, so will your fishing trips.
2. Be Safe
Scope out the area before taking your child. Be sure that it is safe. You want to find a place with a safe, stable ground, and not a lot of slippery rocks. Water accidents happen. By doing a little research and setting clear rules and expectations, you can avoid hazards.
Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources actually has an interactive map that shows you where to fish and even what you might catch while fishing there. Check it out here.
3. Get the Right Equipment
There are many fishing sets made especially for little hands. These poles are easy to cast. You can purchase a tackle box for kids, too. If you have young children, you will probably need to bait the hook and cast the line. A bobber will also be an essential piece of equipment for your young angler. There are plenty of fishing and bait stores around Indiana where professionals can get your whole family outfitted for a season of fishing. One of our favorite stops, besides the Dick’s Sporting Goods, is Schwartz’s Bait and Tackle in Noblesville along the White River.
4. Do a Little Research
There are so many awesome posters, fishing guides, websites and picture books that you can use in preparation for your trip. One of our favorite websites is the Boy Scouts of America’s Fishing by Scout Life page. There are plenty of video tutorials with everything from fish identification to how to tie a knot.
A trip to the local library will have you reeling (pun intended) with both nonfiction and fiction choices. Some of our favorite books about fishing are Jangles: A Big Fish Story by David Shannon and A Different Pond by Bao Phi. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources also publishes a fishing guide, which you can pick up at most bait and tackle shops and also online.
5. Have Fun
Don’t forgot why you are doing this. Be present and patient. Celebrate even the tiniest of achievements. Enjoy the great outdoors. But most of all, enjoy each other.