Daddy, I Got One

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Published on: May. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

Catching his or her first fish is one of a child's greatest thrills. It's every bit equal to that of the first solo bike ride,hitting a homerun, or jumping off the school bus after the first day at school. For many children, that first fish is the beginning of a lifelong love affair.

Usually all it takes to get a child hooked on fishing is one fun experience. Fishing naturally attracts most children, but you can help make their first fishing trip more successful and more enjoyable.


Patience is the golden ingredient in all teaching, but it's especially important with a task that requires hand/eye coordination and involves something that tangles as much as fishing line. You'll need all the patience you can muster to deal with twisted or knotted lines, snags, spilled tackle boxes, dropped sandwiches, spilled drinks, dumped minnow buckets and other mishaps. Some, or all, of these things happen eventually on almost every fishing trip with children, so resign yourself to them and be patient.

Maintaining a cheerful attitude will go a long way toward keeping the outing pleasant for a child. On the other hand, any frustration you show might ruin the experience and discourage the child from wanting to go again.

If you want your child to catch fish and have fun, don't even take a rod and reel for yourself. You will be too busy to fish.

When teaching a child to fish, your goals are different than when you're fishing alone or with friends. With a child, the goal is for the child to want to fish again. Don't worry about catching enough for a fish fry or catching trophy fish. These things will all come later. For a kid, a fish is a fish. Keep it simple and measure your success by smiles and by the memories the trip creates.

Attention Span

When planning a fishing trip, parents should consider a child's short attention span and need for variety. Don't take long trips or fish for species that can't be predictably caught. Try to time the trips to coincide with when the fish bite best. Usually this is early in the day or very late in the day. On summer mornings, you can fish a few hours until the sun makes it too hot, or you can plan a trip in the evening until it gets dark.

Otherwise, think about short trips with definite quitting times. For example, you might go

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