Maybe it started with taking the kids camping beside mountain streams when they were just old enough to walk, or maybe it started by carting them to delayed harvest streams in the baby backpack prior to walking. Either way, my kids are crazy about fish.
Just last week my 4 year old asked when we could fish again. Let me tell you, it warmed my heart until she found out the answer and replied “Yes! That means we get candy”. I’ll take what fishing time I can get with a 5 and 7 year old. Even if it means bringing bribes,... I mean snacks, to and from the water.
Fishing with kids can be tricky, especially at an early age. There are hooks and drowning dangers lurking, not to mention short attention spans. Always pack an array of snacks and be willing to deter from fishing to an array of activities if there is a lull in the action.
Last weekend, we took a trip to a small mountain lake that was stocked with trout. My father recently moved close by and knew the kids would be entertained by catching large trout. The adults would hook the fish and hand the rods to the kids to reel in the catch. With bent rods in hand, the kids would grunt under the pressure of the hooked trout, racing back and forth in the water.
We were able to keep two trout per person from this lake, so into the bucket they went. The rest of the afternoon, the kids ran back and forth from the dock to the bucket “feeding” the fish we already caught and picking them up to name them.
My kids not only like chasing the fish around a bucket, but feeding the fish at a hatchery is equally as entertaining. We frequently camp close to trout water and local hatcheries can be found nearby.
The kids love looking down at the fish swimming and noting which ones are “by themselves”. They also love the chaos produced by throwing a handful of food pellets into the crowded tanks to see the feeding frenzy that takes place.
With the weather warming and the pond fish getting ready to bed, we have had ample opportunity to harvest bass and bream this spring. With quick action and almost immediate bites on crickets and worms, these pan-fish are perfect for young kids.
Although the fish in the bucket have names by the time they are cleaned, this doesn’t stop the kids from having pride for helping to provide for the family’s dinner. And if you ask my youngest child, the fish she catches taste better than all the rest.
In this family, kids and fish go hand in hand. The kids love being outside and the fish just happen to be in the same place. Although they are treated as pets, the fish caught are cooked and allow for shared responsibility in the family, even among the youngest members. Take a kid fishing, and allow them to experience comradery and the abundance of nature so they can pass it on to future generations.