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jonmason

Advice on getting kids into fishing

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Hey guys, 

I’m hoping to collect some advice from some of you fathers/grandfathers that have successfully gotten younger kids into fishing. I was recently approached by a family friend and she asked me to take her 9 year old grandson fishing and show him the ropes. I happily agreed, sharing this amazing sport with anyone is a great honor in my opinion, but I’m a younger guy myself (23 years old) and this will be my first time introducing a youngster to fishing. I love reading books and diving into the nuances of the fishing and I want to make him a 9 year old fishing prodigy, however, I don’t want to overload him too early and leave his head spinning. Should I just start out by handing him a cane pole on a school of panfish and shut up? Maybe just let him come to me with questions at his own pace? And advice appreciated! 

 

-Jon

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Does the child want to fish/have an interest in fishing or is this something his grandmother wants/thinks would be a good thing? If A then I think it will just be a matter of being a mentor/teacher and having a lot of patience. If B, well I guess you need to find out where the child stands.

As a father I tried to pass along my love for fishing and the outdoors to my children . Patience and letting the child set the pace while at the same time pushing when needed is the best advice I can give. Not saying I did those things well but hindsight is 20/20 right!

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I would suggest to keep it really simple and be prepared for whatever interested the child, as long as it is safe. Catching fish will keep their attention for a bit, but a frog hopping by or a crayfish in the water is sure to garner some interest and exploring around. I would encourage anything that interests them.

I took my daughters to little creeks; clear, shallow water that they can splash around in a bit, maybe see some aquatic life. Bring a small net and teach them early to respect little creatures and that nature is best left in its place. That's not to say a frog or salamander can't be kept as a pet for a while until it can be safely returned, but its probably best for the frog to just be observed and left where they were found. You can always go back and see them again.

Enjoying the outdoors can grow into many interests and seeing it in person is the best hi-def you can experience.

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Take him somewhere where he can skip stones, catch frogs, splash around in a small stream and hopefully catch some fish.  Do your best to keep him interested!

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Kids want action and don’t care what type of fish. Started my guys on panfish and perch, then carp and cats to learn how to fight and handle bigger fish, then ultimately slinging lures for bass, northern, walleye.

Some tips in this video (my son had just turned 10). You can have just as much fun from shore ... and we have!!!

 

I can’t help but ask ... where are the kid’s parents and why aren’t they on top of this? At 23, not your role to inspire or educate their child!

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I probably pushed my kids too hard “you’re going to fish till your hands bleed”. We spent a lot of time Damming  up little creeks catching frogs and turtles one thing that was really fun was seining the creek and bringing a small clear plastic fish bowl to observe what we caught. My son doesn’t fish with me much but uses the concept of finding patterns and being persistent in realastate purchases . Anytime you spend with kids you’re always teaching. Very good of you to help out your friend. 

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Keep it simple. Bobber, Hook, Worms, Zebco, and take him to a place where he will catch fish no matter if they are 3 inches long. If she is asking you to do this she sees a role model in you. Likely the kid does not have a father figure in his life, and that's important to a 9 year old boy, as in really really important. Stop and get him a snack and a pop. Any snack and any pop he wants, even if it is chocolate and Mt. Dew. My best piece of advice is this; Leave all of your electronic devices in the truck. That goes for both of you. Just have fun. Find some frogs, skip rocks, sit at a picnic table and just chat. He will be hooked easier than you think. 

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1 hour ago, Eric said:

I can’t help but ask ... where are the kid’s parents and why aren’t they on top of this? At 23, not your role to inspire or educate their child!

Alot of kids these days are missing positive role models and father figures. Also, alot of parents were never taught the outdoors. It is our job as sportsmen to help educate the general population before being sportsmen is a thing of the past. Kudos to anyone willing to take a kid fishing, whether it is their kid or someone else's. 

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Definitely good to help but the parent(s) can benefit from knowing what to buy, where to fish, how to fish, etc. so they can nurture the interest as it grows. 

Perhaps the OP can help be the spark.

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 before you even take him or her     rig up a bobber ,practice plug or lure with no hooks and practice casting to a bucket start short then longer .   you can get then to practice by themselves . once they have confidence in casting   the rest is easier 

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All great advice. As somebody who has 15 years of experience taking mentally ill 10-15 year-olds fishing every week during the warm months, (over 500 trips) , I have learned a thing or two. (Not that your friend's grandkids are impaired, but I have seen most things that can happen). First and foremost, there is regrettably a lot of liability exposure in something like this. My co workers thought I was nuts to set up a program like I did, but I am committed to the sport and believe it has therapeutic value . Safety is a major priority and I insisted that all kids wear safe sunglasses, hats, enclosed shoes and long pants and sleeves unless it was really hot. I also did an age appropriate safety orientation, not enough to scare them but enough to know that hooks and fish spines are sharp, and that you need to know where your hook is at all times to prevent hooking somebody. Then casting practice like Rich said ,especially teaching them to cast sidearm and check behind them before casting. If you can frame it in responsibility terms like shooting a bb gun the kids really buy in . All hooks should be barbless  at least at first. No treble hooks. The venue is huge all kids want action at first and don't care about species or size. I was lucky enough to find a place with a nice dock with abundant bluegill, minimal weeds and a railing. Imagine corralling 5-8 kids with bipolar, adhd, and autism without that!  Look for a place like that and prefish it yourself to ensure some success. 15 years of experience resulted in the following rig: light spincast rods with six pound line, very small clip bobbers ( pear shaped tangle less)  1/64th or 1/32th oz. Jigs with small crawler pieces or maggots . The jig instead of a regular hook prevents fish swallowing the hook, preventing the trauma of killing a fish and ruining the day . Keep it short and leave when they are catching and they will want to come back. If they get bored and start focusing on other things, go with it . Make it all positive. Even though you go barbless, get a pair of long handled curved hemostats to grab the hook, flip the fish and release them with a shake, and you won't get hooked in the hand or finger. Kids are somewhat unpredictable at first till  they get their coordination down. You are a great human to take this on. Hope my experience helps. It is a lot easier with one or two kids. Good luck and good fishing!

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Solid info John! Really nice. The tips and techniques would make for a nice ISA bulletin article. 

Would make a good checklist for the ‘fridge in any budding angler’s household.

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I taught several kids how to fish.  Casting usually isn't a big deal as long as you hand them something you would fish with.  Not some fun killing crummy rig.  You can buy awesome rods and reels dirt cheap today.

The part they usually struggle with is keeping the line tight and then setting the hook.  when they are totally new, I usually don't fish.  I'll just watch them and make sure they hook up.  Kids are pretty smart they usually catch on quick.

The first thing you need is a pond with a lot of bluegills.  You want them to catch a lot of fish.

John is right on about the jig,  though I usually go with 4lb test and an ultralight rod an usually more thill type bobbers.  Personally I think 4lb line fishes better than any other line other than braids.  Less tangles, less birds nests if you put it on right and if you tie good knots it's a hell of a lot stronger than people give it credit for.  Personally I think it noticably catches more fish.

 I used to use live bait like wax worms, but have found recently that Berkley Gulp products, especially the 1" minnow and helgrammite are fantastic.  John is spot on also about the jig being less worriesome about gut hooking.  If the fish does get deep hooked it's easier to get the hook out because of the 90 degree bend, you know exactly where the hook point is. You want to pack hemostats also.  Walmart sells a good one.

I have also used Berkley Power Hawgs, tiny twister tails- and numerous tiny soft plastics.  They all work but that gulp stuff is fantastic.  The only drawback is that the guy who designed the the jar should be shot.  They leak gulp juice over everything.

I have been using small Thill floats, but clip on bobbers also work fine.  My buddy at work fishes with a small weighted one with a rig exactly as I described only using a small round weighted float.  He puts a lot of action on the jig with that float. That's all he fishes with ever and he catches a LOT of big fish.  It's actually freaky how big of a fish that 1" minnow will catch. 

As they progress, set them up with a 1" floating Rapala- A panfish killer.

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One extra tip that I thought of when I read Marks. The best way I found to teach them to set the hook is to have them hold the rod and hold their arm and the rod with your hands, setting the hook for them a few times. Speeds up the muscle memory a lot.

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