A How to Guide: First Time Fishing with the Kids...Survival Edition...
To all of the brave souls that have ventured to teach the younger generation the fine art of fishing you understand that it can be a rewarding yet tumultuous task. The acquired skill of patience has not yet been introduced into many young minds and the ability to understand the danger of a flying hook does not exist until it is too late for either the teacher or the student.
In any case there are some key elements to remember in order to provide the best example for your young angler which will create a lasting memory and fun. We will try to break some done in the following article.
1. F is for FUN
Remember this process will inevitably test your patience a great deal more than you had hoped. It is important to keep a calm head and understand that the excitement of catching a first fish will set the tone for the young angler and there fishing efforts of the future. Keep the F-bombs in the tackle-box and remember that F is for FUN today. Do your best to keep the tone light and explain each step. Kids will love to soak in all the extra knowledge.
2. Excitement Overload
When first arriving at your destination there will most likely be a influx of excitement. Putting the pole right into the hand of a young highly energetic and excited boy or girl and having them swing the hook and sinker around will most likely end in two ways. Either the hook is in them or in you. Knowing how to deter this without squashing the excitement is a highly overlooked aspect. I find the best way is to use this energetic time to show and explain rigging and how to cast.
Have them sit down next to you and start showing them how to setup the pole. Explain each step from tying the hook, adding a sinker, adding a bobber, how the reel operates, and how to bait the hook. During this process you will usually notice that the kids thrive on learning new things. Usually this will settle them down as they are listening to you. Explain the safety that needs to be followed because of the sharp hook and swinging rod. Also add the additional caveat that if this is not met we will be packing it in and going home.
Once you are all setup and the young angler has seemed to have calm themselves it is time to start fishing.
As mentioned above patience is not really going to come into play. Waiting for a fish especially for a first time angler will be a most difficult task. The whole experience should be kept short at first and hopefully with some planning end up making that first catch really enjoyable.
I have found that lakes or reservoirs to be a good starter locations. You can usually find some "sunnys" a freshwater sunfish, or some smaller bass. These are great targets for a small hook with a night-crawler worm as bait. They will put up a reduced fight which will allow the young angler to reel it in mostly unattended making that feeling of gratification from hauling their first fish that much more exciting.
The most active feeding times are early in the morning or around dusk. If can make these times there will be a better chance of your first time fisher being successful.
4. Short but Sweet
After hopefully a few exciting catches, taken a bunch of pictures, and remembering to have the kids kiss their first fish or at least really close for a picture, pack up and head out. Keep the day short and sweet preserving the excitement and allowing you to get back to the house and have a beer, wine, or cocktail. You deserve it!
I hope this article provides some brief insight into the first fishing experience. It is always so much fun passing information down to the next generations and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they learn something new. Keeping the experience fun, safe, and memorable are the keys to success here.