Fishing For Kids: How To Get Your Little Ones Started

An in-depth guide on fishing for kids and how to make this popular past time part of your hobbies. Fishing For Kids: How To Get Your Little Ones Started

When I was young, even though I was raised by my grandmother and her two sisters, I did spend time down in Florida with my dad. We would go out on the pier in Tampa for hours at a time just fishing and enjoying the day. Those are some of my happiest childhood memories. I would spend more time staring at the water and watching the lines with a sense of peace that has been difficult to come by since I have grown up. We caught all sorts of things too.

I was lucky enough to have a dad who guided me through this activity. He was happy to spend his precious time off on the weekends on the water teaching a crazy little girl how to fish and furthermore, how to enjoy it enough to want to continue with the activity on through adulthood. Most of my angling skills originated with him. I was lucky. Not every child had that type of childhood and find themselves wanting to learn this sport but don’t have anyone to teach them.

There isn’t anything I can say here that will take the place of the love and patience of a father, but I can take a few minutes to pass on some of the more basic information. Whether it is your goal to teach yourself or your kids to catch just a panful of fish to feed the family or to eventually get to the place where you can trophy fish, sit back, relax, and let’s talk about fishing.

When you are on the lake or the ocean, fishing is a great activity that can allow you to have fun and relax and just enjoy being outside. To assist your kids with fishing, here are a few tips that will make the whole thing more enjoyable.

Start Slow

With smaller children, a great way to start will be just to walk along the edge of the water and enjoy nature. This will allow for your child to get used to being close to the water. If you see other people fishing, this is a fantastic opportunity to talk to your child about what the people are doing and get them interested in it.

Catch the Fish

For many children, going a few hours while not catching any fish can be incredibly boring. For this reason, in the beginning, start with an area where you know that there is a lot of fish. This might be on a well-stocked pond or lake, or even the pier down at the beach.

Be Safe

This should not have to be said, but for novices and those with children near the water, you need to ensure that they are safe, and one way to do that is to put a life vest on them. Safety is critical and the most important thing when it comes to children and water.

Also, if your child isn’t comfortable with casting, which is normal at first, you might need to help them a few times. Remember, there is a hook on the end of that line that can be dangerous.

Don’t Overdo It

As we said a minute ago, it is common for children to become bored or easily distracted. This means that you might want to keep the first couple of fishing adventures down to 2 hours at most. This will allow the kids to remain engaged so that the next time you take them, they won’t dread spending the whole day on the water, and it also makes it a bit easier for you.

The bottom line is that you need to pay attention to their actions and what they say. If they want to call it a day earlier than what you had planned, that is perfectly ok. It is a rare thing for someone to get hooked on an activity the first time they try it. Fishing should be enjoyable for everyone involved, and if that isn’t the case, there are always other days to try again.

Gearing Up

Sports of all types attract their fair share of people who geek out when it comes to the equipment. However, for my money, it can be difficult to imagine one that will more befuddle the amateur with a vast array of doodads and gimmicks than fishing. You can go out and buy a combo rod and reel for nearly any stretch of water that you will ever imagine fishing, artificial lures made for any type of fish and condition of water, and everything else that can include things like electric sharpeners for hooks to streamside seats that are self-warming. Also, as your pursuit of those flashing fins takes you down different paths, many of those things become must have sort of things. For starters though, I will attempt to set you up with a rig that is versatile while not slashing too much into your budget.

Of course, the core of your gear will be your rod and reel. Since we are attempting to choose one that is versatile, simple, and sort of foolproof, the best options will more than likely be:

  1. A bait casting rig,
  2. A spin casting set,
  3. An open-faced spinning reel complete with a rod that matches.

For each option, there are enthusiastic fans, and any or all of them will do the job. However, I am going to suggest the third option. With this rig, a variation of sinkers and hooks, and a few lures, you will be able to go after both fresh and salt water fish. For kids, try going with a smaller version of it. All of these things should be available at a variety of fishing and/or outdoor shops.

Many people might recommend a spin casting or closed-face reel for beginners. However, I would go with the open-faced one because they are easy to use and open. When your line gets tangled during casts, and it will, you will be better able to fix it while not needing to take the entire reel apart. Also, while the open-faced variety will take a bit more practice to use proficiently, ultimately, it will offer more control and casting distance.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have to practice. The good thing is that all you need to get that practice in is a large backyard or an open field and a smallish lead sinker. You just need to tie the sinker to your line and practice casting. Don’t get discouraged if your first attempts aren’t too successful. The right touch and rhythm will come in time, and you should be able to gain the accuracy and casting range that will allow you to perfect those things when you are actually fishing.

Kids can get discouraged with this easily and quickly. Be sure to offer constructive and positive criticism and let them know that you are in their corner.


Artificial lures will catch fish and they won’t stink when you leave them in your refrigerator for too long. However, it is difficult to beat live or fresh bait. When it comes to freshwater fishing, the earthworm is quite versatile. Other good choices include minnows, crawfish (which can be effective in the spring or early summer right after they have shed their exoskeleton and before the new one has formed) hellgrammites, salamanders, grasshoppers, crickets, and frogs.

When it comes to saltwater baits, there is quite a wide variety. You might ask at the local pier or bait shop to find out what works best in that particular area. You might use shrimp, bloodworms, sandworms, or cut mullet. My dad and I used to use cut squid, and we were always successful.

Wetting Your Line

The tactics for fishing that will be used will vary according to the water you are fishing and what you are hoping to catch. For that reason, I will just mention specific strategies and techniques for a few different situations. Just go with the one that will be the closest to how you will be fishing with your kids. However, never let something you read keep you from watching the people fishing around you to learn their techniques. Every single body of water will have its own set of idiosyncrasies. You might fish in one area for your whole life without uncovering all of its secrets.

Slow Rivers, Ocean Shores, and Lakes

Any of the tactics that you might use for a small farm pond will work in bodies of water that are larger, as long as the lure you are using will be suited to the available fish or if you use bait that is appropriate. But, you and the kids you are teaching to fish also need to know about bottom fishing. This will use a sinker that is heavy enough to drag the line to the bottom and at least one hook that will hold the bait on until it reaches the bottom, or maybe just above the bottom when you cast it.

This type of fishing generally calls for bait that is live or fresh along with a rig. Watch what the other people fishing around you are using – especially the ones who are being quite successful. Typically, it will be best to keep your line tight so that you will be able to notice the sharp bobbing of the tip of the rod that will signal a fish is feeding on your bait, or taut enough that you will be able to feel it in your hands. To make this easier, you can always pinch your line using your index finger and thumb just above the reel.

If you will be in a boat, you will be able to cover quite a bit of water by trolling one of your artificial lures just behind the boat as you slowly move through the water. Match the speed of your boat to the action of your lure (wobble, spin, or flash). Typically, a comfortable slow motoring will do the trick. Let out a bit of line, up to 20 yards, and then wait for the action to begin. Once you have a strike, you will be able to anchor where you are, and cast your live bait or lures. You can also troll back and forth in the area a couple of times to determine whether or not the first catch was a part of an entire school or shoal of fish.

The End of the Line

There are quite a few challenges that the enthusiastic angler will be confronted with and just as many ways to deal with them… in fact, there may be more than one way to clean a fish. Hopefully though, the information you have read here today will be enough to get you and your children started along the way to the always demanding, always rewarding activity that is fishing. If I have managed to do that, you might plunge headlong into the labyrinth of this activity to the extent that it will become an integral part of your life. You can believe that being caught up in the sport of fishing is something that can free your mind, body, and soul.


  1. You Tube, How to get Kids Started Fishing and Off the Xbox
  2. Shakespeare, Teach Your Kids to Fish in 10 Easy Steps
  3. Sportsman’s Guide, How to get Kids Started Fishing
  4. TFO, How to get Kids Started in Fishing