Wednesday, 20 June 2018 11:50

Beginner's guides to fishing | Tips for fishing with a budding angler

Tips for Fishing with a Budding Angler

By Sadie Marcheldon

One of the greatest joys in life is watching one’s children make discoveries for the first time. Not only is fishing a great bonding experience and a great escape, it’s an amazing way to teach your child some important life lessons. Teaching a young angler to fish or even just getting them interested in something you’re already passionate about can be exciting. And starting early is also your best bet for carrying on the tradition to the next generation. But it’s also a daunting experience. Below are half a dozen tips to make the first time fishing experience that much better.

Before You Hit the Water

Preparing your budding angler ahead of time is really going to pique their interest. Materials about fishing are easy to find and fascinate children, so plan to find books, posters or even online resources or videos. Finding videos of people catching huge fish is enough to get any young angler excited.

If you have access to fishing equipment, it’s a great idea to have your child look at and touch a rod, a reel, nets and life jackets. And even — taking extreme care — show them some lures. You can explain their functions and the process ahead of time.

If you have a boat, you can show to your child how the controls work (kids love controls). Maybe even go into a little bit of detail about water safety, such as why it’s important to wear a life jacket. Not only will it help with your child’s interest level, but educating them about the function and equipment before you go out will save some time the day to head out.

Planning Makes Perfect

It goes without saying, but you should plan your trip with your little angler in mind. If you’re expecting a young child to be able to hike miles through bush, carry heavy equipment or sit with patience for hours at a time, you’re going to be disappointed.

If possible, try and choose a family-friendly fishing spot that is going to be easily accessible. What's more, look for alternative activities like a beach or swimming hole. Activities other than fishing have saved many a fishing trip.

Duration might be the most important factor of all. Plan for the shortest possible stretches of fishing and the shortest possible boat ride to a fishing spot. Once you’ve mastered the fishing jaunt, start working your way up to longer trips.

Safety Above All

Be sure to take extra precautions, especially with young children. Water safety is especially important to learn at an early age. Having the proper safety equipment on hand as well as things like hats and sunscreen is going to help ensure your trip is a great one.

If something does go wrong on a first trip, being as prepared as possible will make it seem like less of a crisis (even if you think otherwise). Nothing will sour a kid on fishing faster than a stressful situation.

This site has a good, quick rundown of fishing safety tips for kids.


It might sound lame, but patience really will go a long way in helping your young angler enjoy their first fishing or pre-fishing experience. Prepare for a barrage of questions, repeated often, and a whole lot of grabbing and touching and eager excitement. Just remember, most young anglers are learning and seeing and doing for the first time.

Be ready to change your plans or try a different tactic. Many young children run hot and cold in the span of a few minutes. Ride out the storm and chances are, you’ll have a great time.


You’ll also need to prepare yourself for the fact that young children are easily distracted and easily bored. You, as a seasoned angler, might find sitting and fishing and waiting to be very relaxing, but a young child might find it torture. If your child doesn’t seem overly interested in fishing or the process, you might just need to break up the day with other activities. Just because your child may lose interest easily, doesn’t mean they aren’t truly interested overall.

It never hurts to bring extra activities like sand toys, a minnow net, bubbles and some snacks for a break. Bird watching or naming insects or trees or even rocks can be equally as exciting.

Watch and Learn

Most children learn by watching, following by doing. Be prepared to show and explain exactly what you are doing. If you’re a seasoned angler, this might be hard, as most actions have become automatic over time. Slow the pace down and try not to become frustrated with unending questions.

It might be best to start out small, with a child’s rod and reel. You could demonstrate how to cast or how to put bait on a hook or how to attach a spoon to the line. Start with a float or a spoon that has the hooks removed for practice. From there, work your way up to different fishing techniques on future trips.

Keep Your Perspective

Don’t lose heart if your first trip doesn’t go exactly as planned. Prepare yourself for on the fly changes, huge smiles, excited laughter or maybe even a temper tantrum. Fishing is ultimately about family time and bonding. Even challenges offer learning opportunities. Stick with it, change tactics if you have to, and prepare for a world of discovery.

Sadie Marcheldon and her family operate the Monster Fish Lodge in Waldhof, Ontario. Sadie is a regular contributor to, a site that helps anglers find the best fish finders, trolling motors, pedal kayaks, and other fishing technology.

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