Working in the fishing tackle industry has afforded me the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people over the years. I’ve met everyone from the blue-collar worker to the guy in the suit and tie … from the weekend angler to the hard-core tournament bass fisherman.
Through all of this diversity, however, my favorite customers are the newcomers to the sport who wish to take their kids fishing. On several occasions, I have had fathers or mothers in the shop for a quick fishing lesson so they could dazzle the kids with their fishing knowledge.
The first thing I tell my new customer is to keep it simple. If you keep it simple everyone involved will have a far more enjoyable experience.
Another key factor is to eliminate the frustrations of difficult to use equipment. Ease of use will go a long way toward encouraging young ones to continue to like fishing.
Select The Proper Tackle
To prepare yourself for your first outing, you should first choose a reputable tackle dealer. While some good deals on equipment may be had at the larger department stores, as a rule the big chains will hire workers with limited or no fishing knowledge. On the other hand, a good tackle shop usually employs clerks that are knowledgeable with regard to the equipment they sell and generally will be participants themselves.
To begin, you need not purchase the latest state of the art equipment, yet very inexpensive tackle will most certainly fail, leaving both you and your child frustrated and disappointed.
Upon entering the tackle shop you may feel a little overwhelmed by the number of rods and reels to select from and believe me, they all have a very specific function.
As an example, I have been asked for a rod and reel combination that could be used for cod fishing as well as for lake trout. This simply cannot be done, as each of these fishing situations requires very specific equipment.
For most freshwater fishing situations however, an easy to operate spin-cast outfit will meet your needs. A spin-cast, or closed faced reel, will have an easy to use star drag system and a push button line release. The rod you choose should have small lineguides all of the same size and either a trigger or pistol grip handle. Most reels come packed with operating instructions but here again a good clerk will be able to provide you with a quick hands on lesson is need be.
The appropriate sized spin-cast reel for general freshwater fishing should be filled with either 6-pound or 8-pound test line. I also recommend that the rod you select be no more than 5-1/2 feet in length. While a longer rod with provide the user with a longer cast, in the hands of a small child or even an inexperienced adult the shorter rods will offer up more accuracy and will be less cumbersome to use.
Get A Well-Matched Combo
Another alternative would be to consider purchasing a combo (rod and reel together). Combos can be a good idea as they are usually put together at the factory and were manufactured to perform well together. However, to keep the cost down on some combos, you will find they will give up a little when it comes to quality and either the rod or the reel will be somewhat inferior.
Next is tackle selection. As you would be planning to fishing in the purest form, not a lot of equipment is required. Plan to purchase a few medium-sized bobbers, small sinkers (unleaded of course) and a number of size 6 or 8 hooks. You may also want to purchase a small tackle box to carry you terminal tackle in and to add to this you will also want to have a pair of needle-nosed pliers to help with hook removal. And here too, the folks at the tackle shop will be happy to guide you in rigging your lines if you need assistance in that area.
Now that you are equipped with the proper tackle, all you will need to consider is what you will use for bait. I believe the most productive of all baits, regardless of the fish you plan to pursue are live worms.
But for those who might be a little squeamish when it comes to handling the squirmy little critters, good alternative baits include salmon eggs, cheese, bits of hot dogs or even balls of white bread.
Fish From Docks, Bridges
As for places to take the kids, I would suggest docks and bridges as they are generally far enough away from casting obstacles like trees, bushes, etc. At the same time these areas tend to be somewhat confining. However, in the case of small children, this is perhaps another reason why docks and bridges are a good idea. We all know just how fast little ones can disappear and the confines of a dock or bridge will help in keeping the kids in closer contact.
Safety is always a concern when the kids are close to the water. When my boys were small we insisted they wear some kind of personal flotation device as added insurance against any accidents. They objected at first, but they soon learned that if they wanted to go fishing this was a requirement. It wasn’t long before their objections were few and far between.
Share the delight and the excitement your kids will experience when hooking and landing that first fish. It will be a moment long remembered by all. And remember the most important thing is to have fun together!