THIS month I’ll share some of the secrets I have learnt over the past eight years regarding not only taking kids fishing but ensuring you and your kids have a great time on the water.
Now I must confess, I nearly didn’t write this article. The morning of writing this, after my eldest caught his PB 66cm flathead (a great and proud moment) behind Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club, he was winding in against the current too fast and sling-shotted his sinker out of the water and right into my head. After a few choice words and calming down, I realised the kids needed more advice on safety in the boat.
Fishing boats are dangerous things, with hooks, knives, rough water and flying sinkers. I will now make an effort to ensure we spend our time on the water more safely. I have two boys, Hayden (eight) and Cooper (five), both of whom love to fish. Usually, going fishing involves preparation, however like all things with kids, you need to spend extra time preparing to guarantee hassle-free time on the water (mostly anyway!).
First, you want to make sure all your rods are rigged prior to the trip. The kids will be eager early and having rods pre-rigged saves you spending ages tying knots when you should be fishing. Less is more, and as tempting as it can be to put a heap of lines in the water, the kids will pretty much require your full attention, so it’s best to have only one rod for each child. Make sure you bring plenty of drinks and food because the kids will get bored after a while and five minutes of peace while they have some snacks can be a life-saver.
I believe in starting with the basics when taking kids fishing, which means hooks and bait. There will be plenty of time for them to learn lure techniques, and frankly bait will give them more action early on than lures. You need to keep them catching, even if it’s only small bream. If you’re in a river, a simple running ball sinker outfit with a 2500-size reel and a rod that is not too long rigged with a whiting hook and a fresh yabby will catch just about anything and is a very versatile option that will save you re-rigging to target different species.
Bait gathering becomes all part of the day for kids, and pulling up on a sandbank and pumping yabbies keeps them entertained. They can run around and stretch the legs while catching quality bait for whiting, flathead and bream. If you are fishing offshore, a visit to the bait grounds such as Kirra Reef and jigging livies will be great fun. A full string of yakkas on a light bait rod is great fun for a five-year-old.
For example, when out at Palm Beach Reef I’ll deploy a floating pilchard and one live bait and they will pretty much look after themselves until hook-up. This gives me time to help the kids as they catch yakkas and bottom fish.
It’s best to hit the water as early as possible, not only for the fishing but in summer you want to spend a few hours out there before it gets hot, heading home by 9-10am. Each year we holiday at a location where I keep the boat on the water, which is gold with kids because you can jump in the boat and scoot out for a couple of hours without them getting tired or bored. Always have a bucket in the boat because the kids will use it for collecting soldier crabs, playing with small live baits and so on.
Taking kids fishing can be one of the best experiences you will get as a parent. Though testing at times, seeing them catch quality fish and looking at the excitement on their faces is priceless. Get them off the iPads and out there!