The first time I took my oldest boy out on a fishing expedition- I was like a kid at Christmas. I was so excited at the aspect of sharing with him a love for the sport that has been my lifelong passion.
While visions of father and son catching world record tarpon, and redfish danced through my head- my son was developing a growing concern for the fate of the “cute little” bait-fish swimming around in the bait-well.
Let’s suffice it to say that the trip didn’t turn out quite the way I had planned, but over time I have learned a couple of things about getting kids involved in the sport of fishing.
First of all you want to be sure to bring snacks. If your wife isn’t watching, you may even want to throw in a special treat- like a candy bar. Kids have a tendency to get really cranky when they start getting hungry. Keep ’em fed and you’ve already won half the battle.
Don’t try to plan an 8 hour trip with a 4 year old child. There aren’t enough snacks in the world to make that situation a pleasant one! Keep it short. A 2 to 3 hour fishing trip is good place to start.
We’ve been taught to aim high, but when it comes to fishing with small children- I’m telling you now, you need to LOWER your expectations! Just because you cannot imagine anyone in their right mind not seeing the beauty in being out on the water tracking down a prize redfish or snook – does not mean that your 6 year old is going to be inspired by the idea.
Bring an extra dip net when you are live bait fishing; and then don’t be surprised or disappointed if all they want to do is play with the bait. Let them dip and play in the bait-well until their hearts are content. I’ve taken enough kids fishing with live bait to know that you won’t keep them out of the well anyways.
Did I mention that you should bring snacks? Snacking is good. It can also serve to keep them from eating the bait. Unfortunately, that is not just a joke. Fortunately, it wasn’t my kid. Seriously, keep them fed!
Think of fun ways to illustrate good angling habits such as moving s-u-p-e-r s-l-o-w and stepping softly on the boat. You can’t just tell them to keep quiet. You are fighting a loosing battle. By exaggerating the behavior, you catch their attention, help them remember and instead of being annoyed – you are guiding them towards good angling habits & having a good time doing it. If that is all they get out of the first couple of trips- you have made real progress.
Safety first, safety first, safety first– and snacks immediately following. It just doesn’t make sense to hand a clueless kid a sharp object attached to a line and rod -and then not pay close attention. Stay within arms reach, or someone could loose an eye.
Know when to fold ’em. Calling it quits just means you will live to fish another day. If you don’t push them too long, your children will be more interested in heading out to go fishing with dad/ or mom again soon.
Attitude is everything in life and fishing with kids is no exception. I understand the desire (more than most) to land the perfect tarpon. I want my kids to love the sport as much as I do, and I’ve learned that the best way accomplish that end is to relax and have fun with them.
Before you know it they will be reeling in the sea trout left and right- catching snook, and redfish all by themselves. They will battle the mighty tarpon, and win the war. The sense of amazement and pride you will share in that moment is worth every gut wrenching, hand wringing moment you spent worried that they were destined to become “bait fish activists”.
Don’t sweat the small stuff- just get them out on the water and have fun- and don’t forget the snacks!
Daddy Mark Becton has NO idea that he is guest posting for me today. I totally and completely without any acknowledgement, permissions, or regrets lifted , stole , borrowed this post off of his blog. I have not yet decided if I will be informing him of this act or if I’ll just wait to see how it unfolds. Thank you for your full co-operation in keeping it just between us – OK?
(the man has been known to actually buy property without being present – or informed- in the past, so this should NOT be a big deal- or much of a surprise, for that matter)
Thanks for stopping by- y’all come back,
Other #31dayers I think you’ll enjoy:
Melanie- Only A Breath Amy- Missional Mamas Soul
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