6 Tips for Fishing with Kids & Having More FUN (Beyond the Bobber)

Do you want to get your kids more excited about fishing?

Sure you do. We all do! Let’s teach them a few presentations that are more enjoyable than that crusty old bobber. Start with this 3 minute video:

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Your actions and the way you fish with your kids will have a massive impact on whether they love it… or hate it.

No pressure 😉

Fishing with Kids Beyond the Bobber

Here are several tips I learned the hard way that are guaranteed to help you have more fun & success on the next family fishing trip.

  1. Scout the Area Ahead of Time
  2. Snacks!
  3. Be Ready to NOT Fish
  4. Be Flexible
  5. Be Patient
  6. Be Encouraging
  7. BONUS TIP: Teach your Kids to Set Goals, Persevere & Reject Handouts!

1. Scout the Area Ahead of Time

Before you take your little ball of energy to a lake or pond, make sure you scout the area ahead of time. Look for signs of life, likely forage, available cover, bottom composition, test a few different techniques if possible and try to confirm that there are actually fish in the area.

I like to go one step further and use my Deeper Pro+ Sonar to check depth, water temperature, and look for holes and underwater structure that can hold fish right from shore using my phone.

If you do this, you won’t waste any of their tiny attention span or energy.

Yup... this looks like a great fishing spot!
Yup… this looks like a great fishing spot!

Scouting is an important practice for your own fishing as well. Even if you aren’t able to cast a lure, it’s a good idea to scout an area before you plan an entire day around a single location.

In the video below, my son caught 6 bass out of a lake with a rocky bottom and good rip rap shorelines. This allowed me to set him up with a jig worm and an exposed hook, which is a great option for kids as it is much easier to use than a Texas rigged stickbait in a mucky pond – which we fished the week prior and ended up getting skunked:

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2. Snacks!

This is almost more important than remembering your bait! Take lots of quality snacks (granola, beef jerky, dried fruit) and water. Your kids will get hungry and thirsty and keeping them fed and hydrated will help you both get more casts in.

Fishing Snacks for Kids

3. Be Ready to NOT Fish

Stop for a second. Look around. Do you see everything?

Look again, Dad.

Turtles… birds… frogs… bugs… goofy trees that look fun to climb… a swing set near the lake parking lot… they seem small to us because we’re focused on the fish, but every “little” thing can actually be a BIG DEAL to the kids. So many things that we tend to miss can make them happy!

Catching Frogs. Loving Life.
Catching Frogs. Loving Life.

Don’t miss these opportunities to make an average fishing trip something they will remember for the rest of their life.

It took my oldest son 3 trips to land a bass with a stickbait – but the first two trips were saved by frogs! Had we not stopped to smell the roses, this could have been torture and ruined fishing for him entirely… which would have been a massive parenting failure on my part.

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4. Be Flexible

If your kids are interested in fishing more active presentations – help them. If they want to change it up – let them. Encourage their curiosity and give them a chance to throw “bigger baits” as long as they agree to be careful and responsible (whipping a spinnerbait with a trailer hook is dangerous business).

Place presentations that are likely to work in front of them. Identify these during the scouting you complete ahead of time. For example, a quick handful of baits that would work in a small city lake with rocky shoreline and decent visibility could include:

  1. Jig worm (with a few different worm options they can pick)
  2. Wacky Worm (with a few different stickbaits they can pick)
  3. Swim Jig (with a few trailer options they can pick)

This will help them “own” the fish they catch and make it much more memorable.

5. Be Patient

Fishing with your kid can TRULY be an incredible test of patience. You won’t see it in my videos… but I realized what a jerk I was being at times when I went back to edit the footage from these trips. This was a failure on my part, and luckily I was able to “edit these situations away”… but they stuck with me. (They haunt me, actually.) This is good in the sense that it has forced me to be more mindful, and that is why it’s worth sharing. There were just as many scowls as there were smiles before I heard how I was speaking to my kids. Ouch.

Be calm. Be patient. Make it about them.
Be calm. Be patient. Make it about them.

Rise to the occasion and go into it after making the decision to be a good example. Focus on fun, not 100% hardcore tunnel vision on the task at hand. We all fail. Catch yourself, breathe deep, and try again.

You will become a better teacher over time. I promise.

6. Be Encouraging

When your kid makes a nice cast – tell them! When they pick a good color for their bait – tell them! When they set the hook or land a fish – let them know how proud you are. Pause. Take a picture. Make it a big deal!

Make every bait selection, quality cast, hook set and fish landed a big deal!
Make every bait selection, quality cast, hook set and fish landed a big deal!

These little reinforcements will help to build their self-esteem and make “going on another fishing trip” something they look forward to.

7. BONUS TIP: Teach your Kids to Set Goals, Persevere & Reject Handouts!

Help your child set a few goals before you head out. We’re not watching bobbers anymore (well, not all the time – I mean if conditions are right you should… but I digress) so we should be actively trying to get better!

For example:

  1. I want to get better at casting today
  2. I want to learn to fish a swim jig
  3. I want to catch my first fish at this location
  4. I want to catch a fish on two different presentations
  5. I want to fish for a full 30 minutes before I chase frogs…

Then, help your child work hard to acheive their goal – whatever it may be.

You don’t have to look very far to see that our world is filled with losers and crybabies sitting around waiting for a handout. It’s our job as parents to teach the youth that good things come to those that work – and what better way to do this than through fishing?

There is no participation award. The fish don’t care if you’re tired, uncomfortable, if you had a bad day at work or school – they will bite after you put in the work… and it requires time and the effort to get better.

Teach this value to your children. It will extend far beyond fishing.

Work hard, little ones. Nobody owes you a thing.
Work hard, little ones. Nobody owes you a thing.

When I fish with my kids – I catch fish. I don’t “hand the pole off”, I don’t look to give them a handout or make it easy. I let them see me work a bait. Set the hook. Fight fish. Land them. All of these things build the desire in them to catch their own. Even if they have a tough day, the message is this:

Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. We’ll try again.

Always do your best to put them in a position to succeed, but don’t make it too easy…

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Fishing is fun.

Chances are you already know this, and the reason you’ve read this far is because you are looking for ways to share that with your kids. Apply these tips and I guarantee you will raise better fishermen & women… and maybe teach them a few values that extend beyond the bobber to boot.

AJ Hauser Fishing with Kids

Do you have a story about fishing with your kids that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it!

Feel free to leave a comment below, or you can keep up with our growth as anglers on Thursday Night Fishing – a playlist from The Minimalist Fisherman YouTube Channel.

Tight lines – we’ll see you soon!

Next: Have You Ever Caught CRAPPIE This Way? Don’t tell your buddies…

A Crappie Fishing Secret

It’s So Easy the Kids Caught Fish Doing It, and it doesn’t involve a bobber

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