03 Apr Fishing with kids – have fun without disaster!
If you have kids, especially young ones, you may not have much chance to wet a line…..’cos the thought of managing them with a rod, baits and HOOKS sounds like a nightmare!
Well, it can be….but there are a few simple ways to organise your fishing with the kids, get out into the fresh air and maybe even have a bit of fun….
…I know because I did it with 2 boys and one of those was….well, let’s say he’s very independent!
Whatever fishing you do it needs to be simple. So you need a bit of room….doing anything with kids holding a 2 metre long piece of graphite or fibreglass and sharp hooks can end in tears if you don’t have you own space.
I like beach fishing because it gives you options. If the kids get bored, and it can happen quickly, there’s other things they can do to amuse themselves…they can always play in the sand!
Beaches also offer some fish, big and small….but your best chance of a catch is with the small stuff, like mullet and little bream….so it helps to target these with light gear and small hooks.
Piers are good too. They get you out in the deeper water and there’s plenty of activity with people walking by and doing stuff that offers a bit of distraction. If you come prepared with a bit of berley you’ll have a chance of hooking some fish…the kids will love it!
Being on a pier let’s you fish a few different ways. You can fish on the bottom with the standard bait fishing approach or you can jig a bait….the jigging action gives the kids something to do .
I’ve caught salmon and flathead on heavily fished piers by using a paternoster rig and a tasty bait like whiting fillet or prawn. A paternoster rig has the sinker on the bottom and a “snood” or line attached further up with the hook. By jigging or lifting and dropping the rig it makes the bait jump up and down in the water. This action can be a killer on a heap of fish species…but use light line because those pier fish are easily spooked by the heavy stuff that looks unnatural.
If you go fresh water fishing you’ll give the kids the best chance of a catch if you go to stocked waters. The Victorian government stocks many lakes with trout in the lead up to school holidays. These lakes are spread across the state and there are many in suburban areas. You can find them listed in this site – lakes stocked with trout in Victoria .
Since the trout in stocked lakes have come from breeding farms they’re used to being fed pellet food so the closer you make your bait to this stuff the better your chances of landing a few – this is where dough baits come in handy. You can make your own but it’s way easier to buy the stuff. Your local tackle shop should have a stock of different types but one of the most popular is Berkley Power Bait. They are also available online.
The way you use this stuff is to take small pieces out of the jar and mould them into a ball on the hook…simple! It has a strong smell and come in bright colours so it’s got plenty of attraction…and my kids loved playing with stuff but it stained the hell out of their clothes!!
You can get a floating version of this bait which pops it up in the water and makes it easier for the fish to see. This works real well when the bottom has silt, leaf litter or a bit of weed that would cover the bait if it sank.
Another bait is a couple of lively worms on the hook – 2 or3 small worms on a size 8 hook works well. Leave plenty of wriggling ends to attract attention. As a back up, tinned corn kernels, can also land a few. Always take a selection of baits so you have options if one doesn’t work.
Finally, if you are river or lake fishing and it’s not stocked with fish then target the most likely species…Carp.
Unfortunately, carp make up about 80% of the biomass in our rivers and lakes. They are a pest but they are also one of the easiest fish to catch. Many young anglers start by catching Carp. Both my boys learned the basics by chasing big Carp….and enjoyed it so much they still do it these days.
-Some of our most memorable fishing trips were when they were young, hooking and struggling to land big carp…they had a ball!
Baits for carp are simple… tinned corn kernels , dough, worms and bread all work well and these are pretty easy for kids to put on a hook….closely supervised by an adult!
If you want to chase fish with lures, you will have a bit more of a challenge if the kids are young. Continuously casting and retrieving a lure will take a lot of supervision so be prepared to pull lures out of snags, trees….and sometimes other people. If you want to make it a bit easier on yourself you can teach the kids to jig their lures. This works if you can fish from a pier, fishing platform or boat.
Jigging is just lifting and dropping a lure. You can buy metal jigs for this and soft plastics also do the job well. You can also jig for squid. Any type of jigging seems to amuse the kids ….and they don’t have to cast all the time.
Float fishing can be great entertainment. It’s novel and if they do get a bite it’s pretty exciting. Fishing off a pier, platform, lake bank or beach with a small bubble float and throwing some light berley in will attract the local species like mullet, garfish, carp and other stuff to your bait. My kids always loved this stuff….especially when that float went under. Fish On!
Whatever fishing you do with your kids…make the rigs simple. Teach them some simple rules about keeping the line tight to avoid the tangles, handle hooks with care….and look around before they cast. After a few outings, especially if they catch the odd fish, they’ll be nagging you to take them again.