Get a kid into fishing

Watching your childs face when winding in a fish is priceless.
Jarrod Day
Over the years I have found that fishing can certainly take you many places in life. As a youngster, with so many of life’s choices ahead, fishing became a place I could escape to. Taking me away from peer pressures, clearing my mind and allowing me to concentrate on just one thing, I now look back on those years and am extremely happy that I was introduced into this relaxing and enjoyable sport.

Having grown up in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, a small but quaint mountain stream flowed down the end of my road. A naive and easily persuaded 10 year old, I was introduced into fishing and from that day forward, haven’t looked back. Fishing for me at such a young age kept me out of trouble. After school, I’d grab my rod and a bunch of garden worms and head off to 'my creek'. All by myself, I managed some lovely trout over the years and learnt many techniques simply by teaching myself stream craft and how better to catch that old spooky buck sitting in the shallow crystal clear stream. A few years on and my passion grew. I turned to saltwater and pursued species accessible to me from a fishing guide at every avenue I could. If it wasn’t for an interest in fishing during my formative years, who knows where I’d be now.

Today, the world is becoming a more violent and dangerous place to live. More and more I hear of kids on the streets and see troubled teens loitering displaying antisocial behaviour throughout the suburbs of Melbourne. I was lucky to have the opportunity to develop my passion for fishing. Many kids don’t have that opportunity, to be supported to develop a passion, for anything. And I think that is the key.

Fishing has taught me many things in life and the most valuable lesson has been to enjoy the outdoors and respect the simple things in life. When I became a parent, I couldn’t wait to get each of my children on the water. My eldest daughter was just 2 years old when she caught her first fish. By developing a love of the outdoors I knew this would encourage her to respect the environment, as it did me. By providing these opportunities, I was hoping they’d develop a passion; hopefully we could share our passion for fishing.

Little did I know how much she would enjoy it and while now at 7 and 4 years old, I am constantly asked 'dad, when can we go fishing again?'

As a parent, I can only put forward my passion to others and say that if you’re ever looking for something to do with your children, grab a rod and reel along with some bait and go fishing. The first time your kids catch their first fish, they’ll be hooked forever.

Fishing isn’t just about catching a fish though, sometimes we forget this but it is time spent together that remains in their memories. The fish is the icing on the cake.

Though this time spent together on a local pier, boat or on the edge of the bank can be both enjoyable and frustrating, what we have to remember is that kids are just that, kids! We just have to find other ways to keep them entertained.

Boredom: The most difficult aspect of fishing with young children is the fact that not all the time do you constantly catch fish. As we all know, children get bored very quickly but this can be overcome should you target the right species. Sitting in a boat for 6 hours waiting for snapper to bite isn’t really going to get their blood boiling is it? Rather you need to keep reminding yourself that this session is for them, not me. Personally, I always manage to take along a never ending supply of food. Children love to eat and if there are plenty of snacks available, you can prevent the boredom from settling in after an hour or so.

Trout are a fantastic species to target and are relativly easy to catch for children.
Jarrod Day

Another prevention measure is to ensure you’re fishing for a schooling fish. Waiting for a bite can be extremely boring and considering 10 minutes to a child is like two hours to us, they will lose interest very quickly. Attracting fish such as mullet, garfish, silver trevally, salmon, pinkie snapper, trout, redfin, mackerel or kingfish depending on the age of your child can be very entertaining.

If you want an instant mile from your child, go garfishing.
Jarrod Day

A classic species to target is garfish which can be fished for from a boat or from a pier. The tackle required is simple enough and when they start catching them, the session can be totally out of control. When I took my eldest fishing for garfish with a friend and his kids, there were literately garfish flying over the gunwales left, right and centre. It was a time when I really needed a third hand just to catch the fish, re-bait the hooks before catching another 'flying' garfish. Better yet, fishing for garfish is one of the most entertaining types of fishing for kids as rather than waiting for the rod tip to bend, which is it unlikely to do considering the fish itself is very small but the fact you use a float. The kids can watch the float until is pulled under the water and when it does, the excitement levels are epic.

Fishing options: Some of the most difficult options I am faced with when taking my kids fishing is where to go and what to target, what’s the weather doing etc.,

I have found out that the more you ponder the less fishing they will get to endure. Sometimes, getting wet isn’t the end of the world. Sure it may be uncomfortable but kids jump in puddles don’t they? I mean, just because it is raining isn’t a flag to cancel. Rather take the necessary precautions and pack warm clothes, a rain suit and gumboots. Take some spare dry clothes and a towel and leave them in car. At the end of the day, the more they are outside; the less they are fighting over the TV, IPOD or IPAD!

Barramundi farms can be very entertaining and some big fish can be caught.
Jarrod Day

When it comes to options you do need to find what is safe of course and you will need to do a little research to know what is about. There is no point going fishing from a pier if there is nothing to catch. Local fishing reports or by calling your local tackle store can give you a good indication of where to go. In saying that, just because it is blowing the trees down along the coast doesn’t mean you can’t go inland. Better yet, right around the country there are plenty of trout and barramundi farms that you can catch fish, pay a fee per kilo and take it home for a feed.

Even dad's can get in on the action at trout farms......
Jarrod Day

There have been plenty of times where we have been on holidays and headed to a local trout farm, even the Townsville barramundi farm was an entertaining day as my daughter at the ripe old age of 3 managed her first barra of 77cm which almost pulled her in. Still, there were no crocs around and she had a blast.

Throughout Melbourne, the Department of Primary Industries regularly stock inland lakes, estate lakes etc: this then provides those that don’t or cant afford to travel too far from home the opportunity to still get outside and catch a fish.

Trolling can be very successful for kids and will yeild a good catch of fish.
Jarrod Day

What ever you decide, there are plenty of fishing opportunities for kids whether inland or along the coast. With just a little research and basic fishing knowledge, any child that catches a fish, will be hooked for life. You just need to provide the opportunities and get them out there regularly.
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