By Cynthia Marple
Fishing with my kids is one of my family’s favorite outdoor activities. It is great excuse to find a spot near a lake or pond, turn off the screens and wait for a bite.
Equipment and Bait
Yes, it is hard to fish without something to catch those water critters. My older son has successfully caught a fish with just a net. He had to be very alert and quick. Along the beach, it can be the only option since swimmers and fishing hooks are a bad combination. Even if fishing is allowed, dipping nets are helpful. If nothing else, on a day when the fish aren’t biting, use the nets to skim the water or sand for small treasures.
Traditionally, a pole is used. Kid’s fishing poles are readily available at most retailers and tend to be one style. For adults and older children, there are different styles of poles for fly fishing, deep sea fishing or other types of fishing. Do some research or shop at a trusted sporting goods store to make sure you pick the correct pole
Every time I go to the fishing section of a sporting goods store, I am overwhelmed at the amount of hooks, artificial baits, poles and other equipment. When I started fishing with my kids, we bought a starter kit that included a basic tackle box with extra hooks, bobbers, weights and some artificial bait. These are a great choice for beginners.
Basic Equipment to Get Started
- Fishing pole (depends on both the location and type of fish)
- Hooks (this varies depending on the type/size of fish)
- Small, split metal weights
- Bait (live worms, cut up hot dogs or cut up chicken gizzards)
- Monofilament fishing line
- Gardening gloves (for handling fish)
- Needle nose pliers (to remove hooks)
- Gallon Jug(s) of water (for cleaning)
- Baby wipes
- Camera (to capture the moments)
The more experienced you and your kids become with fishing, the more equipment your family will collect. A good quality tackle box with a lots of smaller compartments is worth getting so you have all the smaller items kept together in one place.
Places to Take Kids
I was surprised to learn that Texas has more than 100 lakes large enough for fishing. With a shore line along the Gulf of Mexico, there are also hundreds of miles of coastal fishing as well as businesses that will take you on chartered fishing trips in the Gulf. Always check for warning signs – alligators are common in Texas waterways so make sure to put safety first.
The subdivision I live in has lots of small lakes and ponds that are stocked and fishable. If you live in a subdivision that provides lakes/ponds, check with the Homeowner’s Association to see if fishing is allowed. Such a convenient and low-key option needs to be explored to maximize fishing options. Just make sure fishing is allowed – once again, check for signage.
Local and State parks often have stocked fishing lakes, access points to rivers or larger lakes. In Katy, Mary Jo Peckham Park has a large lake that is stocked twice a month. Anyone under the age of 17 does not need a fishing license; however, everyone 17 and older will need one.
Texas State parks do not require fishing licenses if you remain within the property boundaries. Check for a nearby Texas State Park that has waived the fishing license requirement at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/familyfish/.
Patience is Tested and Developed.
Getting a catch within seconds of casting the line is very rare. It takes time to get the attention of a fish swimming by. Watching the bobber for signs of a bite develops patience. Plus, fish do not always bite. The bait, hook, pole, weather and other factors can be perfect, yet still nothing bites. Rather than let this ruin your time outside, take a “better luck next time” attitude and stay positive. Make sure your child knows that the time spent together, away from a screen, was the real catch.
Respect for Nature and Compassion
Planning ahead and researching based on the location and kinds of fish helps kids learn about aquatic ecosystems. Releasing a newly caught fish and only keeping those that you will eat develops compassion and gives a real world example of the value of a living creature. It also helps a child understand how lucky he or she is that the family does not need to catch fish to survive. To develop compassion for those with less, talk about how hard it would be if they needed to catch fish every day in order to put dinner on the table.
Getting a Little Mucky
Baiting hooks can be messy especially if you are using live bait. Removing a hook carefully and returning the fish gets a bit mucky. Cleaning a fish to prepare it for cooking is borderline gross. However, these are valuable skills that build tolerance for the messy parts of outdoor activities and helps encourage self-reliance.
Lifetime Hobby with Unlimited Variety
Grandparents and young ones alike can handle the physical requirements of fishing. It does not require extreme cardiovascular exertion or intense boot camp level training.
From all the different places to fish from to the many types of fishing, there is basically an unlimited variety for this lifetime hobby.
Still looking for a summer camp for your child? IQuriousKids.com has lots of summer camp activities. Armand Bayou Nature Center has summer nature EcoCamps where kids can fish. See https://www.iquriouskids.com/kids-camps/houston/nature-outdoors/armand-bayou-nature-center-summer-ecocamps-30-bci
Has this post inspired you to try fishing with your child(ren)? Tell me what you think in the comments below.