The photo you see here is of my daughter Mabel out on our local bass lake a couple weekends ago. She’s two and a half years old and this was the first day I can honestly say that she seemed interested in getting out and trying to fish.
In fact, she actually asked me if we could “go out on the boat” — on the water that is. Normally she simply jumps on my raft in the driveway…
Now I’m no expert on the matter, as I only have one kiddo and just started to try to take her out for stints longer than one hour, but in the small amount of time I’ve been doing this, I’ve found some very helpful tricks to make fishing far more entertaining and interesting for her.
Here’s seven tips that I’ve found to help. Take ‘em or leave ‘em… If you’ve got anything to add, I would love some ideas.
1. Keep it Simple, Stupid
Instead of taking your two-year-old out swinging dry flies for steelhead, I would recommend bluegills at the local pond. That’s a no brainer…
2. Keep it Short
DO NOT take your two-year-old out for the entire day. I’ve found 1.5- to 2.5-hour increments seem to be all she can tolerate.
**3. Polarized Glasses! **
Yes, they make them for kids and they make all the difference in the world. They are not cheap, but they aren’t terribly expensive either. I think I got Mabel’s for $16. She of course picked the ones that were pink and covered in skulls and crossbones. I’ve found this to be a total game changer because she can now see what I’m seeing. She spots trout and watches everything below her in the bass pond.
4. Tenkara Rods
Love them or hate them, they are a perfect fly cast teaching tool for the little ones. Believe it or not, Mabel can cast one and it’s sooo much easier than managing line on a reel. Spinning rods with a closed reel and bubbles with flies are also fairly easy for them to operate.
5. Make Sure the Weather is Perfect
You do not want to go on a windy, overly hot/cold, or rainy day. I know it sounds like common sense, but don’t drag your kid along when it’s blowing 30 mph just because you have the fishing jones. You might ruin her expectations on what it’s all about for a good long while, and trying to take her next time might not be as easy.
**6. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks… **
Bring lots of ’em. Any time mine seems to get bored, I give her a little tasty distraction. This also gives me time to fish. By the time she’s done she usually has interest in those finned creatures swimming below her again.
7. Plan Ahead
Get a fishing report before you go. Make sure you have extras of everything (kids tend to drop stuff overboard). Is the water clarity fine? There are some things as anglers we take for granted and can work around, but can easily ruin a small child’s trip or cause him or her to lose interest early on. Make sure your kid is going to have a good couple first experiences and he or she will want to get back out with you.