Fishing has been a sport and an experience enjoyed by youngsters and families since the beginning of time, and virtually every adult fisherman or woman can recall his or her first outing on a lake. It might have been with dad or it could have been with the whole family, but those moments and memories tend to bring smiles whenever they’re recalled, and many adults teach their children how to fish as a rite of passage. Today, even with all of the hustle of modern life, the tradition of taking children fishing continues, and one of the most loved family fishing adventures available is panfishing.
If you plan to take the family fishing, here’s what you need to know: Have fun. You don’t need to bring all of your gear, and you don’t even need to get on a boat. It’s important to remember that young children won’t be impressed by your expensive rod and reel, and they won’t care about all of the fancy techniques you’ve learned. For them, the experience is about spending time with the family out in nature. Fishing along the shores of ponds and lakes works just fine, and all you’ll need is a minimal setup and some bait.
Keep in mind that kids tend to have short attention spans, so try to limit your fishing trip to no more than an hour or two. You should also consider packing along some snacks in case the kids get hungry. Of course, children should also be monitored very carefully around hooks, and you’ll more than likely be the one to work with bait. You should take the time to educate your kids about the potential dangers that come along with working around hooks and other fishing gear so that they stay clear during casting.
You can use crickets or mealworms when seeking out panfish, and remember that, while panfish are generally found in shallow waters, they do like to hide under rocks during the warmer months. As a result, you’ll likely deal with a few snagged hooks here and there, so be ready for it. Consider using a cane pole or light rod so the experience of holding a rod doesn’t become too cumbersome for your child. As far as your line is concerned, simply use monofilament around six pounds. Some small sinkers and bobbers can then be added for good measure, and believe me, kids get a kick out of carefully watching their bobbers for movement, and even the slightest jerk can bring delight.
It’s important to remember that part of the excitement that kids experience while fishing is actually catching fish, so if you aren’t seeing much action after about 10 minutes, consider moving to a different spot. While kids will love the experience no matter what, they’ll also want to be reeling in something, even if it’s just a minnow-sized fish. This is also a good way to teach patience, not just in fishing, but also in life. You can use the times when nothing is happening to explain how diligence pays off, and when your child does finally reel something in, they’ll understand how it pays to remain patient.
Finally, you can also help your child to understand about nature through the experience of fishing. Panfish travel in schools, so use the experience to teach about the movements of fish and other animals and about how they group themselves together for protection and to find food. These lessons can then help your child to understand fishing better because once you’ve reeled one in, others are likely to follow. Also, don’t forget to record these special moments with a camera or video recorder. The most important aspect of taking your child fishing is to have fun, and they’ll love the fact that you preserved these moments when they get older. In fact, they’ll be more likely to take their own children fishing due to your encouragement, thereby passing down the tradition that you gave them.
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