The moment we get ourselves off the hook from all the stress we experience from work, big changes, or other usual hardships in life, a relaxing break should always be in order! As anglers, one of the ways we can loosen up is by taking on yet another fishing trip; be it with friends, family, or both. But when fishing with lots of people, there’s one thing we can’t remove from the equation: children.
If you or any of your buddies ever end up taking kids fishing, it’s ideal that you’re prepared for the occasion. After all, the best fishermen and women can brave the toughest waters—even when their boats include young, up and coming anglers.
Consider and include them in planning
If you’ve gotten the common safety rules down to a tee, then there’s no need to worry too much! All of them are still applicable here, just with extra steps. The good thing is that although there’s a lot of them, they can be summed up by simply considering the fact that you will have kids with you on the trip.
A good place to start is by getting to know them, even just a little. Are they curious children who can’t stay still in one area? Are they the type to inspect and try out equipment by themselves? Look out for these little quirks and adjust in accordance with them. Of course, you’d still have to understand that you won’t always get to lump a group of children in one category, as each one of them is unique. But it’s all part of what makes the trip more fun!
When planning the trip and purchasing the necessary equipment for it, taking them with you is a good strategy as well! It is highly likely that they will ask you about the fishing supplies they see. Take the opportunity to teach them about the different items you have in your tackle box such as lures, sinkers, and potentially harmful items such as hooks. If they know the dangers of fishing, they’ll easily pick up the ways to keep themselves safe as well.
Invest in child-friendly tackle
Speaking of equipment, fishing with kids requires that you make slight changes to your normal day-to-day pack. While you could simply teach them how to use your own gear properly, you can’t be a hundred percent sure that they make use of those lessons constantly. Therefore, it’s best to just use equipment with extra safety measures for peace of mind.
Luckily, child-friendly tackle are becoming increasingly common! But if you want to be more diligent with selecting equipment, you can always go manually and consider them one by one. Think of items such as hooks, for example—in their case, you can either go barbless or pick up ones that include safeguards.
Use quality PFDs and safety gear
The US Coast Guard (USCG) already requires Personal Floatation Devices or PFDs in every boat regardless of age, so their importance is a no-brainer. What you do need to make sure of is that the ones you have are USCG-approved, and that you understand the different types of PFDs.
It’s a straightforward classification from type I to V. You have (1) offshore life jackets, (2) near-shore vests, (3) floatation aids, (4) throwable devices, and (5) special use devices.
But beyond the necessary PFDs, there are also optional, but almost equally important items to consider when bringing children on fishing trips such as protective eyewear, jackets, and hats, to name a few. You can even go the extra mile by bringing in waterproof sunscreen, hand sanitizers (or sanitizing wipes), and the like.
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Implement clear rules during the trip
Once you’ve walked them through everything and have gathered the necessary supplies, it’s time to set rules for them during the trip. Lay everything out simply, without the complicated fishing mumbo jumbo so they can understand easily. It can be as simple as “no hooks” whenever they get curious or “stay close” when fishing near shores.
Let them know about these rules ahead of time as well, so that they won’t think that you’re merely being a killjoy when you implement them. At least, when they get a little frustrated, you can pull out the “I told you about this” card if needed, and you’ll be much less of a spoiler to them.
Remember though, that the point of fishing trips is to let them have fun! So even if they somehow end up playing with rocks, picking flowers, and other activities that don’t necessarily involve fishing, it would be great to let them be as long as you give them proper guidance.
Safe is fun
Fishing with kids is more enjoyable when you’re assured of their safety. It can be anxiety-inducing to constantly think of whether or not they’re okay throughout the day, and nobody needs that when trying to unwind. But with enough preparation, fishing trips with kids can go just as smoothly as when you’re all adults.
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