Let the kids enjoy the whole experience / All Photos by Peter Holcombe
Kids and fishing go hand in hand. If you feel like me, you hope you will be able to share your passion for fishing with your kids. The biggest fear most people have is “Will my kid like it?” Adding in the element of controlling their own boat can really generate a fondness for fishing in kids.
It is also an investment on the parent’s part. There is a lot to learn before your child is self-sufficient enough to paddle their own fishing kayak, rig, cast, catch, unhook, and feel comfortable with all of the facets of fishing. While this is the challenge, it is also the beautiful thing about the sport of kayak fishing, because the best way to start your kids is in your kayak where you can do everything for them.
When they are small, they fit easily in front of your seat, behind your seat, or on their own seat if you have a tandem. Bringing a 2-year-old kayak fishing when you go, in my experience, not only a great way to get them out of the house and exposed to the water, but also a fun experience for everyone.
I have had some wonderful outings with my youngest son, KC, where he sits up front and watches what I am doing for an hour or so and then falls asleep for another hour or two while I paddle around my local rivers catching smallmouth and spotted bass. Now, he is seven, and his favorite 2 words are “Fish On!”
Toy fishing poles go a long way in making them feel part of the experience. One of the challenges is balancing the “instruction” you want to give your kid so they can actually fish, with letting them do anything they want.
I have come up with this formula that I used to teach my older kids to kayak (they are both the current World Whitewater Freestyle Kayak Champions today) and am applying to my son, KC as well in hopes that he will join me as a pro-fisherman one day, as well as be an avid kayak fisherman.
- Safety first. Remember to put on a PFD. Read our article on life jackets designed for kayaking.
- It is about the overall experience. Remember that your kids will associate the entire experience with fishing, not just the fishing part.
- Involve them in buying their first rod. Places like www.kidcasters.com can help.
- Involve them in choosing the snacks and drinks you’ll bring on the water.
- Bring them something to occupy themselves if they get bored before you are ready to stop.
- Don’t push them to actually fish. Just let it happen naturally.
- Bring the stuff for them and show them how to use it.
- They will learn by watching, including how much fun you are or are not having. Make sure you are having fun! The more fun you are having the more they will want to be a part of that.
- Let them warm up to fish. Wanting to touch them, hold them, and catch them is not always a natural desire at first. Don’t force it on them as no kid wants to go fishing if they don’t like fish and their parent wants them to touch them. It took my daughter years to learn to like to touch them. I would unhook her fish, and still do, from time to time, which was part of her deal if she was to go fishing with me. She loves kayak fishing now.
- Get them their own kayak when you can. Jackson Kayak just made the world’s first kid’s fishing kayak called the Skipper.
Make fishing a fun experience. Being on the water, being in the boat, jumping in the lake, having a picnic and maybe some fishing too. They will keep those memories forever and so will you.
Be sure to check out our article on essential kayak fishing accessories, to make the hobby more enjoyable!