A Guide to Your Child’s First Fishing Trip


Your child’s first fishing trip should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your kid, yet, many parents forget that they too are required to have a good time on these outings. Often, parents become so obsessed with ensuring that their children will enjoy their first experience that they simply forget to enjoy it themselves. This is often the first and most detrimental error made when embarking on an initial fishing adventure with your children. If you’re concerned about over-preparing or even under-preparing for your child’s first fishing trip then sit back, relax and realize that you can prepare with minimal effort and still enjoy the experience just as much, if not more so, than the kids.

Get Good and Legal

Depending upon your state, the age at which your child will require their own fishing license will roughly be around 13 years old. The best way to figure out the legal requirements in your county is to go to a local outfitters and ask about tags and licensing for your area. You can also hop online to investigate the fishing laws in your state and local area.

Most of the time kids won’t need their own license but the parent or guardian accompanying them will. Once you make yourself legal, your kids will be off the hook! But make sure you follow your own states laws and regulations to avoid hefty fines from not being licensed to fishing in an area that isn’t open at the time of your visit.

Plan Ahead

Finding a stocked pond or stream with an overabundance of fish is a good way to guarantee or at least increase the likely hood of catching a fish. The easiest way to go about finding a location is to check your state or county’s fish and wildlife page online. These sites allow you to easily find licensing information along with nearby locations of bodies of water open for fishing. The stocked ponds and lakes tend to be a great starting point for new or young anglers.

Once you find a place you think you’ll generally be able to find the gear and tackle information on that same page of the fish and wildlife site. The reports and tips for bait or lures to use will be more accurate than forums online from years prior, but if you’re hesitant on what gear to grab it’s always smart to ask the guy behind the counter at your local fishing store or outfitter. These people are paid to have knowledge on the subject and help you gear up for whatever trip you may have planned.

Gearing Up

Your gear will vary depending on the species you’re fishing for. If you’re trout fishing from a lake then all you’ll need is a trout rod and casting reel. What I like most about a nice, light action trout rod is that it makes the fish feel much bigger than it is when your fighting it from the bank. This is a great trick to keep your kids on their toes and excited for the next bite.

It’s obviously important to be sure you have the right rod and reel for the setting, but you also need to be equally as concerned about the bait you choose and the tackle set up you bring. A word to the wise, if you’re going to put bullet weights on your line and then a swivel before the leader, I highly recommend tying and setting your tackle before you even leave to go fishing. This makes it easier to get at least one, if not all, rods in the water right away and from their you can change out bait or switch your leader while knowing at least one of the rods is actively fishing.

It’s Called Fishing for a Reason

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a bite on your first try. If you’ve prepared well and have all the gear you were advised to bring, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Simply put, sometimes fish don’t want to bite. If they bit every time then it would be called catching not fishing.

The only way to increase your odds is to understand the species itself. For example, if using trout fishing from the lake shore as an example, you should educate yourself on the habits of the fish you’re trying to catch. Trout don’t feed during the heat of the day and are very wary to bite even if it’s floating right in front of them. Instead, try showing up for the morning or night bite, the golden hours when sunlight is hitting the water at a lower angle.

Have Fun First and Foremost

Again, most important, among all the other tips you’ll find online, is to actually fish and enjoy the time yourself. This isn’t just about the kids, you’re going to be making memories as well. And if you know nothing about fishing in the first place, don’t worry, neither do your kids! No one is judging and learning together is one of the greatest bonding experiences between parent and child. So don’t forget to laugh and love every moment, regardless of if there’s a fish on or not.


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