Living in Florida, we spend a lot of time on the lake. Our city alone consists of 16 lakes which are all connected by canals. These lakes make up the southern part of the Chain of Lakes in Central Florida, including Lake Eloise, which used to be the home of Cypress Gardens and is now home to Legoland Florida. My husband is an avid fisherman and has fished these lakes since he was a child. I am so grateful that he has passed his love of fishing on to our children. As a family, we enjoy being out on the lake and fishing together. My little guy has been fishing since he was a year and a half and at three years old, has learned to cast and reel in his own fish!
The great thing about fishing is that it is inexpensive, easy to learn, and can be done anywhere there is a body of water. Fishing is a great way to connect with and learn about nature. My kiddos have learned to be respectful to the animals we come across, including the fish we catch, through time spent on the water. It builds an appreciation for nature by linking them to the natural world and fosters a caring and responsible attitude towards nature. The environment is calm and relaxed and away from distractions, which can help open up communication with your kids. Fishing also stimulates learning from the opportunities available for problem solving and decision making.
TIPS FOR FISHING WITH KIDS
Here are some things I've learned for getting and keeping my kids interested in fishing:
Have Your Equipment Ready To Go
Get your equipment in working order before you leave. Have your rod and reel and your bobber strung up and ready to fish with. This will avoid frustration at the lake and will ensure your kids are able to fish right away.
Gather Your Own Live Bait
If possible, let your kids help you dig for worms in the yard for bait or give them a net to let them catch their own minnows. My little guy loves nothing more than to go in the backyard with his shovel and dig up worms for his fishing trip or jump in the lake and catch minnows with his net. In my experience, live bait is the best bait for catching fish.
Fish On The Shore
We have a boat to fish from, which we do often, but my little guy prefers to fish on the shore. He loves to catch the little bluegill which swarm near the shore in early summer. It gives him the opportunity to run and play and move around while he's fishing. Which brings us to the next tip...
Don't Worry About The Size
My little guy has caught tilapia, bass, large saltwater fish like redfish and snook, but his favorite thing to catch is bluegill. Don't worry about catching large fish. Just have fun catching whatever is biting, even if it's just bluegill or some other small fish. They are usually more plentiful and easier to catch which makes it fun for kids.
Help Them Learn
It's easy to step in and solve problems for kids, but let them try to work it out first. If the line gets tangled or the hook snags, let them try to figure out how to deal with it. If the fish stop biting, let them decide what should be done to get them biting again. Work with them to figure out a solution. Let them develop skills which will improve their self esteem.
Educate your children on the importance of a clean environment, which includes not littering. Show children how to properly release a fish and make good use of the fish you keep. Follow all rules and regulations and teach kids to do the same.
Fishing is a great way to spend quality time with your kiddos. Keep an open mind and take cues from them. Small children don't have a lot of patience so limit time to ward off boredom. Make sure to plan another trip. Talk about what they had fun doing and what wasn't so fun so you can plan your next trip accordingly.