How to introduce a kid to fishing

(Released April 24, 2014)

On shore as the lake is warming in the spring, a kid skips stones and occasionally casts a line in the water, while talking to an adult who keeps up casual conversation. Bluegills are the catch of the day.

Kids love to fish.

Introducing them to fishing can be rewarding. But taking kids fishing can present new challenges even for experienced anglers. To help a first-time angler grow into a life-long angler, here are some tips from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Manage expectations – including your own

Remember, the goal is to have fun, said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. Realize that children can have short attention spans and may want to move on to something else after a short time. Try looking at bugs or animals or even finding stones to skip.

“You can’t expect children to have the same level of enthusiasm you do the first few trips,” Kurre said. “Don’t make fishing a chore for them.”

Above all, have patience. Lines get snagged, hooks need baiting and kids might get dirty or need help taking a fish off the line. Don’t forget to give congratulations, no matter how big the fish.

“Seeing your child enjoy reeling in their first fish is rewarding so don’t forget to take pictures,” Kurre said.

Go prepared

Cold, hot, hungry or bitten is no way to learn how to fish. Remember to bring snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent and first-aid basics to make the trip comfortable for everyone.

When considering a location, choose one that is comfortable and safe. Look for restrooms, playground equipment, free parking and a public fishing pier. To find a pier nearby, see www.mndnr.gov/fishing_piers.

Simplify gear, catch fish

Most kids are satisfied catching lots of smaller fish like bluegills rather than fewer, bigger fish like bass. Live bait increases the chances of catching fish.

“Kids love to catch fish of any size,” Kurre said. “They don’t usually begin casting for trophies. Catching a few fish on the first few outings will help keep a child looking forward to the next outing.”

Fishing reels, rods and other gear should be simple and in working order.

“Discouragement sets in fast when children try to use complicated equipment or equipment that doesn’t work,” Kurre said. “Consider giving the child their own fishing rod. This gesture is practical because short rods are easier for kids to handle.”

More information on taking kids fishing can be found on the DNR website.