Gone Fishing with the Kids – 5 Practical Tips

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We're partnering with SC Johnson to share practical tips for moms and dads who are ready to get out into the great outdoors and do a little freshwater fishing with their kids and create some pretty amazing memories along the way.

Fishing with kids may seem a little daunting, especially considering all the tangled lines; and then there are hooks, and inevitably, at least one of those hooks will end up in someone's hand or clothes. However, fishing is also one of the most rewarding ways, besides camping and kayaking, to get out and spend time outdoors in the fresh air with your kids.

boy and dad fishing and untangling fishing line

Taking kids fishing does require a little forethought. For instance, you want to make sure you've got the right fishing gear. There's really not a whole lot of gear you need, though, besides poles and bait.

Fishing with our boys is one of our favorite mini getaways. We usually end up on the White River or Hidden Lake or somewhere around Beaver Lake here in Arkansas.

It's relaxing, even with kids. And it's a great way to introduce them to all the quiet beauty nature has to offer.

Maybe this is your first time taking your kids fishing, or maybe it's your hundredth time out. Either way, we want to help you make sure you're ready to have a great day and create some pretty amazing memories, with 5 practical tips.boy and dad fishing on White River in Northwest Arkansas

Tip 1 – Check fishing regulations.

Check with your local fish commission or even a local bait shop, to see if the area you'll be in has any specific regulations. Examples of regulations may include:

  • Some waterways don't allow natural or scented bait in certain sections of the water.
  • Most areas set a daily limit on how many fish you can catch.
  • Some areas are catch and release only.
  • There may even be a limit on the size of fish you can keep.
  • Check to see who all needs a fishing license. Kids may or may not need a license as long as they're accompanied by a parent; just check to make sure.

It's better to be safe than sorry and know before you go.dad and kids fishing on the banks of the White River in Arkansas

Tip 2 – Wear appropriate clothing.

What you wear can make or break your fishing trip. Anytime you're going to be outdoors, you'll likely encounter all sorts of bugs and critters.

So, have everyone wear long sleeves, long pants, maybe even rubber boots in case you need to walk through water. If it's going to be rainy, make sure to pack ponchos so you can stay dry.

We also recommend pockets. Pockets help with some of the smaller fishing gear you may want to keep on you in case you need it, things like lures, small rolls of fishing line, a pocket knife, etc.

Tip 3 – Wear a good insect repellent.

Bugs biting you will definitely break your day if you forget the bug spray. And it'll also break your kids' day, believe us when we say it (from experience).can of Off! Deep Woods Sportsmen

No one likes getting bit by mosquitoes and ticks. OFF!® DEEP WOODS® Sportsmen Repellent, available at Walmart, is designed to last up to 6 hours against mosquitoes. It's perfect for all the stuff we love to do, including fishing, camping, hiking, and more.

When we're traipsing through the woods to get to the riverbank to fish, it's definitely nice to know that we're protected from mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, flies, gnats, and those nasty little biting bugs that always seem to be around any kind of water source.man spraying OFF! Deep Woods Sportsmen bug spray before he's gone fishing

Give your shoes and clothes* a quick spray and off you go!

*Some personal repellents should not be used with rayon, spandex, acetate or other synthetic fabrics. Always read and follow label instructions.

Tip 4 – Pack the essential fishing gear.

man baiting the line on his fishing pole, getting fishing gear readyHere's a quick list of the important stuff you'll need to take:

  • Bait- worms, jigs, artificial bait, food-based bait. (Again, check regulations before buying.)
  • Insect Repellent: You'll want something that is long lasting like OFF!® DEEP WOODS® Sportsmen repellent or OFF!® FAMILYCARE SMOOTH & DRY INSECT REPELLENTS repellent, either of which you can find at Walmart.
  • Fishing Pole and Hooks: You'll want an easy to use fishing pole and the right size hooks (most packages say what fish they work best for). If you're using worms, don't forget a bobber too. A bobber is great for kids because it lets them know when a fish is biting the line.
  • Stringer or Basket to Hold Your Fish: You will need to put your catch on a stringer or in a basket in the water so they stay alive until you're ready to take them home.
  • Snacks and Drinks: You'll definitely want to bring snacks, especially with kids. Even if you don't think you're going to stay long, ALWAYS pack snacks.

Tip 5 – Be safe.

You can never be too safe when you're taking kids fishing or getting near any type of water source. It's important to talk about water safety with your kids and help them to understand why it's so important to be observant and cautious around the water.

You may want to think about life jackets for smaller kids or those that can't swim. A first aid kit can also come in handy, especially when the inevitable hook latches on to someone's hand.

And If you have older kids that want to venture off themselves, make a plan for when and where to meet up.dad and son fishing on the White River in Arkansas

Bonus Tip – Enjoy the moment.

It's pretty inevitable that lines will get tangled and need untangling. The toddler will scream. And always, someone will be hungry.

Even with all of this, you'll also experience quiet moments where you're able to sit with your kid and chat about their day. You'll hear a hoot owl off in the distance. Or you'll watch a crane go gliding by.

And when your kid catches his first fish… Well, you and he are hooked for life, no pun intended.dad and boy caught a fish with fishing gear on Hidden Lake in Northwest Arkansas

Enjoy the moment, Mom and Dad, because before you know it, this moment will pass.

We hope these tips will help you to have a fun-filled day fishing with the kids, but always remember… Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in to help preserve our waterways and the land surrounding them.

Gone Fishing with the Kids - 5 Practical Tips
Practical Tips for Fishing with Kids

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