Teaching Your Kids to Fish
Guest Blog by Jon Sutton, OutdoorEmpire.com
The Chattahoochee Valley area offers a wealth of family-friendly activities, but few are as rewarding as teaching your child to fish. Fishing is not only great fun, it also gives you a fantastic way to get your kids to stop staring at digital screens and get out for some fresh air and sunshine.
But if you want your child to have the best time possible, you’ll need to embrace a few important strategies and tactics, which will not only help ensure they stay smiling all day long, but they’ll increase your kids’ chances of catching fish too.
1. Set your kids up with rods and reels appropriate for their age and size.
Don’t make the mistake of handing your 6-year-old your old hand-me-down rod; instead, set your kids up with age- and size-appropriate rod and reel combos. A 5- to 6-foot-long spinning or spincasting combo will be ideal for most youngsters. Most sporting goods stores and big-box retailers offer entry-level fishing kits that include a rod, reel, and some basic tackle for about $20.
2. Target child-friendly species.
The rivers, lakes, and streams in the Columbus area are full of exciting gamefish, which draw anglers from near and far. But, when teaching your kids to fish, you’ll want to ignore the largemouth bass, stripers, and crappie that appeal to experienced anglers. These fish are typically wary and difficult to catch (which is part of their appeal); instead, target bluegill and catfish, which are both bolder and are easier to tempt with a baited hook.
3. Pick a good location.
You must pick a good location for your kids’ first fishing trip. Avoid crowded areas and look for a place with plenty of room for your kids to learn how to cast. There are several great spots like this along the Chattahoochee River, as well as West Point Lake and Lake Harding. You can also fish at many of the area’s city parks, like Cooper Creek Park. In fact, small park ponds often serve as ideal locations for teaching youngsters to fish.
4. Use real baits rather than artificial lures.
Spinnerbaits, topwater plugs and jigs are often the go-to options for anglers with a bit of experience, but your kids will have better luck by using real baits, such as crickets or earthworms. Tie a float about 1 foot above the hook if you are fishing for bluegill so that the bait stays high in the water where the fish can see it. But if you are targeting catfish, swap out the float for a sinker to keep the bait near the bottom, where catfish often feed.
5. Fish alongside your child.
Hopefully, your kids will get plenty of bites while fishing and this will give them a chance to enjoy the most exciting aspect of fishing: Battling a big fish to the shore. But, because kids often struggle to get bites, you’ll want to keep your own line in the water, as you’re more likely to get nibbles and hook a fish. Once you do, pass your rod to one of your kids, so that he or she can reel in the fish.
Don’t forget to obtain a valid Alabama or Georgia fishing license before heading to the water with your kids – you don’t want to draw the scorn of local law enforcement officers. Kids under 16 do not require a license, but you will. Additionally, be sure to familiarize yourself with Alabama and Georgia’s fishing regulations beforehand. For information about hunting or fishing on Fort Benning, call the Conservation Branch at 706-554-7516 or visit BenningMWR.com.
If you’d like to learn a few more tips and tricks for making your child’s first fishing trip a success, check out Outdoor Empire’s comprehensive review of the subject. There, you’ll learn more about the type of equipment and tackle that work best for youngsters, as well as the best ways to pick a good fishing location.