Fishing for Kids: Safety comes first

The summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to introduce children to the sport of fishing.

  • Jul. 20, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

The summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to introduce children to the sport of fishing.

Not only is it a great time to teach your child to fish but also a great way to bond as a family while relaxing and have fun outdoors.

. Being prepared and taking the safety precautions required will help ensure that your child’s first fishing experience becomes a memorable one.

Stuart Lake in Fort St. James is a prime location for fishing and when children are involved, safety is number one for Marine Manager, Al Millsap.

“It’s all about life jackets for kids. There’s no sense just owning one. They have to wear it when they are young. They can be too unpredictable and so is the weather on the lake. It could change so fast,” Millsap said.

According to, here are some safety tips to follow:

1. Get the Right Gear

Your child’s age and size will help determine what type of fishing equipment you should purchase for her. She won’t be able to use yours because of the height and weight of it; however, a child’s fishing pole might not be the best answer. Many poles designed for children include images of Mickey Mouse or other famous cartoon creatures and your child may be a bit too old for that. A lightweight pole is a great option because it will be easier for your child to maneuver while looking a lot like your “grown-up” fishing pole. Other gear options include the type of bobber, hook, and bait you use.

2. Go Over the Rules

Setting the rules is an important part of any outing with a child, including fishing. These rules should include no running, no bare feet, no poles on the ground, look before you cast, and stay seated in the boat. Depending on your location, your child’s age, and the amount of people around you, set rules as you see fit.

3. Stay Safe

Along with a basic set of rules, it is vital that you and your child stay safe while fishing. If your family is in a boat, make sure life jackets on, rules are followed, and a first aid kit is handy. Don’t wander into unknown areas or wade into water that may have an undercurrent. It is best to stay in a boat or on shore. Be sure to wear sunscreen, bug repellent, and protective gear – including sunglasses.

4. Go Early

Children are use to waking up early and heading to school, so the promise of a special fishing trip is sure to have them up and ready at the crack of dawn. Take advantage of their early wake-up time! Heading out late in the day may lead to a sleepy, cranky child. And a sleepy, cranky child can get hurt and distracted easily.

5. Pack Snacks and Drinks

Be sure to have easy to access snacks and drinks. Trail mix, water, and fruit are all perfect for an outdoor adventure. A hungry child can get whiny fast and your day may be ruined if you’re not prepared to wrangle the hunger monster.

6. Teach By Example

As with any new skill, your child will learn best if you show her how to do it, and then let her try it for herself. Model the fishing steps: how to bait the hook, pass the time, stay quiet and focused, and reel in a fish. Maintain your patience, parents. Your child will learn a lot by watching, imitating, and practicing what she observes.

7. Give Your Child a Job

When you give your child a responsibility, her confidence will grow immensely. Whether it’s ensuring everyone has on a life jacket or that the snacks are ready, your child will feel important and know that you trust her, which will help lessen any fears she has about learning to fish or “failing” at fishing.

8. Fish Easy

Don’t go after the big catch during your child’s first fishing adventure. Stick to a spot where the fish are in abundance to help ensure your child’s fishing success. Not catching a fish on her first day may disappoint her and stop her from ever fishing again. Teaching your child to fish is not about catching that elusive fish for your own pride, but teaching her about the sport you love and helping her to love it too.

9. Keep It Brief

Don’t plan to spend the entire day fishing. Small children get bored and lose interest easily, and an all-day trip will tire her out quickly. Plan to be home by lunchtime or shortly after in order to stay safe and help make fishing a fun experience.

10. Make Sure It’s About More than Just Fishing

Spending time with your child out in nature is a great way to teach her about more than fish. You can talk to her about the trees, the animals, pollution, and whatever else you think will interest her about Mother Nature. This will make for a well-rounded experience and offer plenty of chances for her to ask questions as you bond.

While you’re enjoying these special moments with your child, be sure to celebrate her developing skills. Catching a fish isn’t the most important part of fishing. Focus on new skills, bonding time, and having fun. Your child will love every minute of it — even hooking those worms.