I am the father of a wonderful four year old boy, and this past Sunday a few friends , brought our little ones along to Pilot 111 for a half day fishing.
Fishing with kids has several challenges. Not the least of which is the fact that they have an attention spam approximately equal to your target species.
This means that its important to be sure that they are always doing something. This is why lure fishing is, in my opinion the very best way to get them started.
At first we removed all of the hooks from their lures, and set the kids a challenge with the reward being to attach real lures, with hooks and the possibility to catch a fish!!
The challenge sounded simple enough: ” Cast the dummy lure far out straight ahead, three times in a row”.
So for the first half of the morning we found a quiet pond at Pilot 111 and got to work to teaching the little one’s the finer art of casting. We chose the Asian redtail catfish pond, which also happens home to some rogue barramudi and striped snakeheads. The fact that it doesn’t have any overhead cables, very few obstacles and is rarely fished played a big part in that decision.
It was great fun to see confident kids boasting about their casting prowess (before they had ever actually tried) meet reality, and then watching as they went from over confident, to humbly dropping the lure behind their backs, and asking for or just accepting assistance.
After a few helping words, it was wonderful to see huge smiles from their sense of achievement as they made their first ever good cast, or even just managed to cast the lure into the water.
After a few hours most of the kids succeeded in their challenge and were rewarded with a nice shiny lure with real sharp and pointy hooks, which all were keen to explore. Thankfully none of them stabbed themselves, but more than a few shirts got hooked!
My little one took a little while longer to get the hang of casting, at just 4 he was the youngest of the group, who were at least 7 years old and up.
I equipped my boy with a rod rated for 5-10 lb line and a Shakespeare E-Z cast spincaster reel preloaded with 8lb line to which I attached a Texas-rigged Berkerley Powerbait plastic worm, of the stinkiest variety I could find, in this case one meant for salt water fishing.
I did this because it enabled him to be fishing even after he wandered away as he left his lure out, so he could still effectively be ‘dead-sticking’. Which is exactly what happened.
We got a bite, and moments later my boy was desperately trying to reel in a fish. But it soon became very apparent that he wasn’t going to manage to bring this one in on his own, it was as you might be able to appreciate from the pic below, simply far too strong for him.
After an electric fight that seemed to take forever, with several dashing runs, (and next to no drag on his reel!) the end result was an 8lb Asian redtail catfish.
Soon afterwards, now excited with “having caught a fish” my son’s attention returned and he set about casting again. Then one final time he cast his lure and as he reeled it back in, yet another 8lb redtail catfish took the bait and screamed off.
This time he had cast the lure, reeled it in and set the hook. I still had to land it as it too was making the same scintillating runs that made suspect it may have been the same fish. But for me and in my mind it was this second redtail that counted as his first, and will do so until the day that he can reel one in and land one himself.
I can honestly say that catching these redtails with my son, on this light tackle was just about the most fun I have ever had fishing.
At the end of the morning our group caught lots of fish (redtails, barramundi and a few giant snakeheads) and proved to the kids that fishing games on the iPad are not nearly as much fun as doing it for real, and we dads got to spend some real fun quality time with our kids. (Both boys and girls I hasten to add)
Fishing with kids is rewarding for all involved. The children learned new skills, which they applied to challenges that they met head on, and achieved their goals, and all whilst having great fun, outdoors.
Patience is certainly needed to teach them, and they need constant supervision at the water’s edge. But remember this is not your fishing trip, its theirs. But the time you get to spend with them and the joy you get from sharing in the pride they take from their achievements is worth every moment untangling lines, removing hooks from clothing, etc. (just about!)