HOW TO GET YOUR KIDS

to like fishing

Some of us are born with a love of fishing, and some of us can be introduced to a love of fishing. If you are planning on introducing your kids to fishing and you are not sure how it will go, or if your kids are already reluctant to fish, here are some tips on planning a successful day on the water.

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One of my best childhood memories is of getting up early to fish with my dad. I loved fishing: I used to beg my dad to take me, and I would go as far as bribing my dad by taking on several extra chores if he would take me fishing. When he would agree, I would set up our rods days in advance. On the fishing day I would pack lunches, get the boat ready, and load up the mini van.

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As you can imagine, one of the things I looked forward to most about being a parent was spending long days in an aluminum boat, fishing under the sun with my boys.

Spoiler alert: my kids? Hate fishing.

In hindsight, I blame myself. I dragged them out onto the water when they were barely old enough to walk. I deflected their complaints by asking for just "five more minutes" hoping that five more minutes would give us the monster fish that would inspire them with a life-long love of fishing. Five minutes, of course, turned into 30 minutes, which turned into an hour, which turned into a strong aversion to fishing.

 

"Not again, dad!" they'd moan, as they watched me pack up the boat on another beautiful  Saturday morning.

I am slowly turning this around through some careful planning.

TIPS to get your kids to like fishing

Pack food

 

Kids like snacks. And really: don't we all? A picnic across the seat of an aluminum fishing boat nicely breaks up the monotony when the fish aren't biting fast enough. Some treats that are usually off-limits such as their favourite candy (shh!) can help kids to associate "fishing" with "special treat."

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Give them a special job

 

Young kids like to be a special helper. Giving them a small, age appropriate responsibility such as measuring fish with a measuring tape or scale, or taking photos, or driving the boat can give them a sense of accomplishment.

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Give them the opportunity to do other things

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that kids are little balls of energy. Sitting still in a boat might just be to much, especially for some younger kids. Plan to fish off-shore or from a fishing dock and let them build forts, find frogs, feed squirrels, climb trees. During the winter months, build a snowman, or maybe play some hockey.

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4

Play simple games

Depending on your fishing setup and your kids ages, you might be able to play a game of Go Fish (fitting!) or Crazy 8s while your rods are in the rod holders- or any other travel game that your kids are into. If you have your hands full with your rod and your motor controls, be prepared with some spoken word games appropriate to their ages. "Would You Rather", "I spy", MadLibs, or "20 Questions" can all help to engage kids between bites on the rod. 

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The 'three S's"

Above all, remember the 'three S's": keep it short, successful, and still wanting more.

 

I think my biggest mistake was that I expected long fishing adventures, which was just too much for my young kids. Boredom and tiredness are hard feelings to overcome once they've set in.

 

It might be hard to pack up when you feel that you've only just gotten started, but leaving on a high note leaves kids with a positive memory from the day which helps them look forward to fishing again in the future.

 

The best time to call it a day for a young, beginning fisher is immediately after catching a fish. If the fish aren't biting and this just isn't working out, cut your losses and leave before the complaints set in.

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Did these tips help you to have a great fishing adventure with your kids? Have another tip you want to share with your fellow fisher-parents? Submit a fishing report!