How to Keep your kids involved in fishing

Exist to Fish Canada writer - Justin Girard explains how to properly introduce your kids to the sport of fishing.

Article by Exist to Fish Canada writer - Justin Girard

Author catches a Walleye with his daughter
As a father and an avid fisherman, you dream of passing down your knowledge to your kids, especially when it comes to fishing. I know for myself, I didn’t care if I had a boy or a girl, he or she will be coming fishing with me! I had a few friends tell me that taking kids fishing is a ton of work and that I should wait until they are around 8 or 10 years old before taking them out with me…..I don’t think so! Listen, being a parent isn’t easy, it’s a full time job on it’s own, so why not invest the time and energy while they are small to teach them about the outdoors, to teach them about being a kid and best of all, teach them about fishing! Here are a few tips for parents to introduce their kids to the sport without making them hate it and without causing your stress level to sky rocket!

Introduction of Fishing:

As a father of 2 girls, I learned a few tricks to keep my kids interested in my passion, I am not trying to force them into the sport, just want them to enjoy it with me and let them make their own decisions on whether or not they would come back out with me!

The girls catch a smallmouth!
With my first daughter, I took her out on the boat when she was 2 years old, some think that is way too young, I think it’s a perfect age. There are a few important things to remember when taking kids out on the boat. First is finding the proper life jacket that fits, make sure you try it on before and that they are comfortable wearing it before you head out. I made my daughter wear it while we were in the back yard playing on the slide and swing just so she gets used to it. I also let her play in the boat in the driveway and teach her where things are and what not to touch. Tell them to pick their seat and make a big deal that this seat will belong to them each time they come out. Another great tip is to let them use their fishing rod at the house, teach them how to use it and what she will be doing once we are out there.


Once you catch a fish, teach them how to handle it, talk to them about the kind of fish you have and show them the characteristics of the fish. If you have a good live well or are planning on keeping the fish, put it in there so your kids can have fun watching it swim, they will play with it and have a great time, this will help them with the whole experience. If you are releasing the fish, talk to them on the importance of handling the fish carefully and let them release it with you. Make sure you explain why you are releasing the fish or why you are keeping it.One of the most important part that I found that is the difference between a short miserable time on the water or a short enjoyable time on the water are snacks and toys! Kids get bored fast, don’t think that your kids will stay out there for a couple hours holding their fishing rod and not say a word, that just doesn’t happen, at least not with mine! So I’ll pack them all their favorite snacks, toys and coloring books, this will help them keep busy while the fish aren’t biting. Avoid taking any electronics out there for them to play with, I see people take their kids out and the dad is fishing and the kids are watching a movie on the tablet or playing video games. Kids can do that at home, try and separate the two if you can.

The authors daughter excited to catch a perch!

Some people may not agree on this next part but I find that this is very important. If you kept a few fish for dinner, get your kids to watch you fillet them, get them involved in what you are doing. I know some people think it’s gross and kids shouldn’t see that but for me, kids need to see that fish doesn’t just show up in a box or a can, this process needs to happen and they should know how that process works. I am lucky enough that my girls are interested in watching me fillet a fish and teach them about parts of the fish. I give my daughter a pair of gloves and she touches the fish and she starts asking me questions about it. I will ask my daughter if she wants to know what the fish was eating, it’s always a yes for her! So we play a game of “how many minnows does the fish have inside” All of this sounds disturbing for some but again, it’s getting your kids involved in the entire process and experience.

Always remember that safety is #1, never take your eyes off of them in the boat, make sure that they are always wearing their life jacket, and if you can, make sure you are too to show a good example.

Remember to keep the few first trips short, a couple hours is plenty for their first time. Don’t get discourage, they are kids. Keep it fun, entertaining and educational for them and I promise you that you will be making memories that will last a lifetime!


Exist to Fish Writer - Justin Girard
Author Bio: I’ve been fishing Lake Simcoe for over 10 years! I love Lake Simcoe so much that I now have a fishing show on Rogers Georgina called Fishing Lake Simcoe with Justin Girard! On the show, I focus on sticking to the basics of fishing, sharing tips and tricks for fishing Simcoe. We focus on bringing guests on the show who share the same passion that I do when it comes to Lake Simcoe!


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