I remember the first time I went fishing as if it had happened yesterday. My older brother and a cousin took me down to the Russian River for an evening of bait soaking. Clams and nightcrawlers comprised the menu. A few hooks and a pocketful of weights and swivels made up the rest of the tackle used. That was it.
Nightfall brought out bats from the nearby brush and the slight twitches on the end of our fishing rods, which we had propped up with y-shaped branches gathered from the grounds around us and stuck in the river bank.
I remember my dog, Lady, ate a frog and started frothing at the mouth, which had me screaming at the top of my lungs, "Rabies!". Of course it wasn't.
Every kid remembers his first time fishing. No matter who it was who took them or whether or not they actually caught fish. A child remembers that initial experience. Here are a few ideas that might make that first trip more enjoyable for you and that special kid.
Before you even think of taking a child fishing, it's wise to spend some time getting them ready for the trip. Time spent in the garage or backyard practicing casting skills and working on tying knots will save you a lot of time out on your first fishing excursion.
Be sure to match the equipment used with the age and skill level of the youngster your taking. If you are going out with very young children, a push button bait casting rod and reel is probably your best bet. The older the child, the more advanced the motor skills and hand - eye coordination becomes. At the same time the more advanced the equipment needs to be. Spinning or bait casting setups can be considered for older children and young teens just starting to learn.
Have an idea of where you want to go fishing and make ready the equipment. Try to pick a place to fish where you think you stand a good chance to catch a fish. You'll need fishing rods and reels and terminal tackle; hooks, weights, swivels and bobbers are most common. Don't forget that cooler filled with beverages to cool off with and keep everyone hydrated. You'll also want to have something to eat in there. Small snacks and sandwiches can make the wait between bites easier to take for all. If you plan to keep your catch, be prepared to deal with that as well.
A big part of being prepared is being ready to deal with a day out in the open, exposed to the sun and it's rays. Putting sunscreen on everyone is a must. Use a sunscreen that provides ample protection for your skin based on it's skin protection factor (SPF) rating , paying special attention to hands, ears, nose and back of neck.
SPF stands for skin protection factor. You have a natural SPF, which varies from person to person. SPF measures the amount of time it takes your skin to burn when exposed to the sun. When you apply a sunscreen with SPF 15, you can be out in the sun 15 times longer than you can without sunscreen before burning. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Look for products that block both UVB and UVA rays.
Use a waterproof or water-resistant sunscreen. Water-resistant sunscreens maintain their SPF for about 40 minutes after swimming or sweating heavily. A waterproof sunscreen doubles that time. Make sure to reapply every 40 to 80 minutes, depending on which type of sunscreen you use.
Remember that, when fishing, you're at more risk for burns and the negative effects of sun exposure, not only from the direct rays from the sun, but also those rays that are being reflected from the water's surface. An added warning to those fishing in higher elevations; for every 1,000 feet you go above sea level, UV radiation increases by four percent.
If your trip involves boating, a proper Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is required for all passengers in the boat .And don't forget, it's not safe to use adult sized PFD's on small kids.
Kids can be a handful. They are often careless, fidgety and can be very impatient. You are going to have to be all that these qualities are not. By their very nature, kids are inquisitive and will ask a lot of questions. It's important that you do your best to answer the questions as best you can. A lot of what youngsters learn on their first outing will carry forward with them for much of their fishing lives. Take the time to answer all questions as fully as possible. Talk about what you're doing while you do it
Kids are sponges and can handle a lot of information coming their way. They are also smart enough to let you know when the overload point is near. Generally you'll lose their attention when they have to much information to process. When this happens it's a good idea just to slow things down and let them work with whatever you've already taught to them.
It' s okay to break away from the fishing part of your trip to enjoy the nature that surrounds you. Picking wild flowers, skipping rocks, watching the local wildlife are just a few ideas of things to do when the bite gets a little slow. My kids and I have been known to stop fishing and take a hike or play a game of hide and seek close to where we're fishing. If you have fishing access with a playground close by, why not watch the poles from a distance while you push your son or daughter on a swing set or keep the merry-go-round spinning.
Bottom line is that the purpose of the trip is to enjoy each others company and to help build a child's confidence in themselves. Don't criticize when fishing. Take time to lavish them with praise for each thing they do correctly. Let them know that the last cast they made was a good and accurate one. Cheer on their hook sets and root for them while they are playing a fish. Make sure the camera is ready for the crowning moment when they land the fish.
But, the most important thing of all is to let them know how much your enjoyed their company. After all, its spending the time with kids that counts.