Two thirds of anglers started fishing before they turned 10. And, according to our Big Fishing Survey, nearly 20% of you were under five years old when your waterside obsession began. Fishing is an adventure for kids. They love spending time in the great outdoors and the thrill of that first catch is a memory they’ll treasure forever.
Learning how to fish as a child can lead to a passion that lasts a lifetime. Here’s how to help your little ones get started.
Keep it in the family
When David Beckham took his son Brooklyn for a sea fishing trip, it was world news. But this is the best way to get your children interested in the sport. Over half of you told us a parent, sibling, grandparent or uncle first introduced you to angling. A family fishing adventure is a really special way to bond with each other and to pass your skills and experience to the next generation.
Plan ahead to find a family friendly fishing lake, or do a reccy to scope out a safe place for kids to fish. We suggest somewhere where the water is shallow close to the bank, with a flat area of grass and not too many overhanging trees.
Make prep part of the adventure
Get your little ones involved in the preparation for the fishing trip by giving them some jobs to do to help. That way they’ll form a positive association in their minds – preparation is all part of the fun.
Put children in charge of making the sandwiches and packing enough snacks and warm clothing to keep going for the day. Make them responsible for their own fishing gear. That way they’ll soon learn to think ahead, planning the kit they’re likely to need for the type of fishing expedition they’re going on.
Is it lashing down outside? How about some armchair angling to fire your children’s imaginations? There are some excellent gaming websites for budding anglers. Encourage your child to learn the basics of fishing before heading out for a practical lesson, with games like this one below from Let’s Fish.
Let’s Fish has thousands of young users hooked on virtual fishing. It includes over thirty realistic locations and hundreds of species of fish from around the world. The challenge is to catch the biggest fish and compete with friends in fishing tournaments.
Keep kids engaged
Pond dipping for mini-beasts is a really good way to keep your restless youngsters entertained while waiting for the ‘big one’ to bite.
Take a fine mesh net with you and a minibeasts identification sheet which you can download from the RSPB website
It’s a useful introduction to all of the species that inhabit our waterways and explains why they’re necessary for maintaining healthy fish stocks – great for educating budding young anglers.
Can you remember receiving your first ever fishing rod? And the excitement you felt when you got to try it out for the first time? A rod and reel make a great present for a young boy or girl – and it’s guaranteed to lure them away from their computer screens and into the great outdoors.
A few basics are all your child needs to get fishing: a rod, a reel, and some tackle and bait. As their love of fishing grows, invest in a tackle box for them so they’ll have somewhere to put the floats, weights hooks and swivels that they’ll accumulate over time. The cost will be minimal but your child’s memories of how much fun they had on the day they landed their first ever catch will last forever.
Back at home nurture your children’s passion for fishing by watching some videos together. From The Waters Edge TV offers excellent tips and tactics from fishing locations around the UK. The editing is top notch in these videos and the content fun and informative – these guys really know their stuff. Watch Chris Collins fishing for dabs in Suffolk.
Make it educational
Children love playing outdoors and fishing is a fun way to channel their energy into learning a new skill. And for some, learning how to fish as a child will spark a lifetime interest in nature, and nature conservation.
Openly discuss conservation issues with your kids. Nurture their natural curiosity by explaining the food chain, connection between species, and the problems caused by water contamination.
Show them what to look out for in a healthy catch and explain why good water quality is so important. The earlier they learn how to look after the aquatic environment, the better for fishing and future fish stocks.
Remember to introduce children to the creatures that live on the water – like ducks and geese – teach them how these animals filter food from the water and how this activity contributes to a healthy ecosystem.
Keep it fun!
Good things come to those who bait, but if your kids start getting fed up with waiting for the fish to bite, don’t be afraid to cut the session short. It’s always best to quit while you’re ahead – that way the next time you suggest a fishing trip, your kids will be eager to come with you.
How did you go about introducing your children to angling? We’d love to hear about any tips you have for getting young people involved, so share your stories on our Facebook page.