Here are a few of the things I’ve picked up while kayak fishing with my kids. Hopefully some this information will help make it easier to get your kids fishing out of kayaks.
Of all the things I’ve learned while trying to get my kids into kayak fishing their comfort is quite possibly the most important. While I and most of the kayak anglers I know will put up with bugs, rain, cold weather, hot weather, hunger and even a little snow and ice while looking for the next lunker I can tell you kids won’t. Until such a time that there enthusiasm for fishing is as great as yours providing them with comfort may be the most important thing you can do to ensure they enjoy their time on the water. Food is super important to kids and making sure you have items they will enjoy with you definitely helps. Lots of snacks to munch on when the fishing is slow will help to pass the time and getting them involved by letting them pick out the snacks helps even more. No one enjoys bugs so be sure to hit’em with bug spray often. Nothing will have them heading back to the launch quicker than being eaten alive. You’ll also want to be sure you have sunscreen and extra clothes if the weather changes. Keeping them comfortable is the first step in improving your chances of ensuring the have an enjoyable experience.
Where to Go
Keep your trips short. Driving hours to your destination never sits well with kids. I’m sure we all remember long trips in the car as kids and the intolerable boredom that seemed to ensue. Try to focus on easy to fish locations. Although put and take stocked trout lakes aren’t always the most attractive to seasoned anglers they are perfect for children and that’s who these outings are for. Smaller stocked trout seem fairly eager to bite most of the time and when hooked can put an a pretty good show. I’m not a fan of using bait ,due to the higher mortality rates it can cause, but these bodies of water typically allow for the its use. Bait can increase the odds of success and after all that is the prime objective when introducing children to fishing. Pike and Goldeye can also be more than willing participants when your kids are fishing. Whatever location you choose try to keep it relatively close and keep in mind kids aren’t looking for trophy fish they’re just looking for fish period. Any fish will do.
Stay away from the cutesy rods market for kids. They’re cheap for a reason and typically have poor quality reels with even poorer quality line. I suggest starting them out with a 5’6’’ to 6’ light weight rod. It will for most situations and is a reasonable length for smaller children to use. While it seems to be the norm to purchase closed faced reels for kids ,I disagree. Closed face reels can still tangle and when they do they may just be the hardest to deal with. I find, probably because I’ve had enough of them, that tangles on open faced spinning reels are easier to deal with. With a small amount of instruction children seem able use open faced reels just fine and usually are a little happier that they haven’t been relegated to the kiddy equipment.
First and foremost. Always ensure your kids and yourself are wearing a PFD. All too often we hear of people drowning while fishing and the one common factor each time is the absence of a PFD. I also recommend beginner kayak classes for children once they are old enough to understand some basic paddling techniques and concepts. Although you may be able to teach them yourself kids tend to listen much better when others are giving the instruction. You can then reinforce what they have learned with your own experience and knowledge. The classes help in building their confidence and yours in them when out on the water. Start out by taking them to smaller lakes and be mindful of the weather ,especially wind. I prefer visiting bodies of water with non motorized craft rules when with the kids. It’s one less thing for them to be intimidated by well learning new skills. If your children are a little small to paddle on their own invest in a tandem kayak. It’s a great way for them to get comfortable with kayaking and it’s much easier helping them fish when they are close to you. As with most things use common sense and be aware.
Overall keep it simple. I’m sure we’ve all been out fished at some point by a kid floating a bobber and some bait. Until your kids have spent a bit of time getting comfortable with both basic kayaking and simple fishing don’t overload them with information on specific fishing techniques. Make sure to keep it fun. Let them guide the pace at which they take in the information. If they are enjoying themselves it won’t be long before they start asking you How and Why and when they can go again.