A Family Fishing Trip
by fishing guide Jason Boser
We could talk about how to catch the big walleyes, northerns, slab crappies, big bull sunfish, or even big jumbo perch. But I am going to talk about a nice day on the lake getting our next generation into fishing.
Here are some tips on getting our younger generation hooked on fishing. I hear all the time from kids, "fishing is boring". If you are a young kid sitting in the boat for 3-4 hours with nothing on the end of your line, and Dad and Mom hollering about making a mess, it would be boring. So how do you get them interested in fishing?
Number one for me is to get them their own equipment. It does not have to be a $100 St. Croix rod, just a rod and reel that fits their size. Get them their own little tackle box and a weight for them to practice casting. Now you can go out to the yard and practice casting and get them ready. One thing about kids of all ages: they love to cast. In the boat, on the lawn, even in the trees.
Next we get them to the lake. Now, if you have young kids you want to get to a place that will offer non-stop action. We have hundreds of lakes like that around the Grand Rapids area. Size is not important right away. Go into a shallow little bay where the lily pads are up and a lot of the times you can even see the fish swimming around. Put on some bobbers with a worm and let them go. Sight is the key. Kids love to see things, so when they see the fish and they see the bobber go down they will love it. Now remember, even with all the seeing and catching after a short time they will get bored, so if they want to play with the worms or the minnows let them go, it's their experience. Also if you don’t have a boat, you can still get out on some of the fishing piers, or even along the shorelines around the area.
As they get more mature you can start going to a bigger fish, maybe spending some time on some walleye, northern, or bigger panfish. Just remember they will not have a lot of patience yet, so keep it short. If they are not biting get out of there and try something new. One thing that works for me, with younger kids in the boat, is when fishing for the bigger fish, the first few times I will set the hook and let them reel it in. They are not yet real good at setting the hook on big fish so you do it for them. They still get the feel for a decent fish on their line. Hopefully you will get a couple fish in the live well. That will entertain the kids for a long time. They might fish for a bit, then they will go look and play with their fish and have fun with the whole idea of looking at a fish they caught in the live well.
Here's another note: once you get a few fish in the live well and they are keeper size, the next step is to clean them up and throw them in a pan. You can show them how it goes from catching to eating. I have seen the excitement on many kid's faces when we are all sitting around a fire eating fish that they caught. It is an experience that can’t be beat.
So remember, when going out with the kids, it is their time, not yours. Keep it short; don’t make them dread being in the boat for hours. Let them do a few things their way (as long as it’s safe). Some worm bedding, a tangled mess of line, a few dead minnows on the boat is really no big deal. Let them have some fun.
As they get older they will have more patience and will want to tackle more and more on their own and hopefully you will have an angler for life on your hands.
Have Fun Fishing!
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