I look forward to Father’s Day each year, another chance to get my kids in the boat for some fishing and fun.
But here’s the deal: When you take kids fishing, its their fishing trip, not yours.
What I mean by that, guys, is do your absolute best to make it a fun and positive experience. Father’s Day is probably not the time to make them sit in walleye chop soaking a rig or the time to toss giant blades for muskies. Read: family fishing is not a spectator sport. Nobody—especially your kids—wants to watch your sorry behind fish like you’re competing at a Bass Elite event, brow furrowed, head craned to read electronics … no talking, no fun.
That said, here are some tips I’ve learned over the years that make fishing a lot more fun for kids and parents!
- Be patient. Remember, even us old salts get our baits snagged or the occasional wind knot … or two. Take time to explain to kids how to fish better, but don’t chastise them for experiencing the same little difficulties we all face as anglers.
- Occasionally set your rod down and coach them, patting them on the back when someone makes a great cast!
- Bring lots of healthy snacks, water and sports drinks. Take breaks to refuel throughout the day.
- Bring sunscreen and bug repellant.
- Keep the boat clean and free of clutter. That way, nobody will be tripping over or breaking things.
- Teach kids about the wildlife you see – we have a blast identifying and talking about the different kinds of birds we see on the water. Plus, this will come in handy once you get your kids into the duck blind.
- Take lots of photos and short videos for grandma and grandpa – like the above short video shot on Father’s Day last year!
- If kids need to use the bathroom – especially girls – let them know that they have a choice to hang it over the side or go into shore. Girls appreciate the choice. Boys, on the the other hand, are little more flexible.
- Plan the outing for lots of catching, less looking. Of course, that means a little pre-fishing for dad the day or night before! Panfish or bass make for great action.
- If panfishing, don’t be afraid to bring some live bait – crappie minnows, leeches, ‘crawlers … Although we don’t really need live bait to catch panfish, kids are fascinated with it. Often, my girls will take a break to play with minnows in the Frabill bait bucket when the action slows.
- Have lots of fun! And remember to post your Father’s Day fishing pics and memories to the North American Fisherman’s Facebook page!