One of the best ways to get outdoors with your kids this summer, and spend quality time together while developing a new skill, is to take them fishing. Besides being fun, fishing encourages patience, with the payoff of landing that first fish, and a good catch can even provide dinner. Some truly wonderful conversations can develop while spending time together at the water’s edge, so even if the fishing’s not so great, the bonding time is.
So how do you make that first fishing trip a success, something that you and the kids will be eager to do again? Here are some tips for getting your young anglers off to a good start:
1) brush up
If you haven’t fished in a while, refresh your know-how. Takemefishing.org has user-friendly tips on every aspect of the process.
2) get your license
Don’t forget to buy a fishing license for everyone over 16 and get up to speed on regulations, limits, and so on. Available by the day, week, or year, licenses can be purchased online, over the phone, or from your nearest issuing agent (see the DEC website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6091.html for the whole scoop). Reservoirs, such as the Ashokan, have additional regulations and require special permits.
3) get the right stuff
Adult fishing tackle is hard for kids to manage; get a simple, kid-sized spincasting setup or a cane pole. Get extra hooks, sinkers, and bobbers so a snag won’t spoil the fun. Use live bait like nightcrawlers or worms to maximize your chances of success. (And a rag or wipes to keep your hands semi-clean.)
4) outdoor basics
Don’t forget the outdoor basics: lightweight layers, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, beverages, snacks. If you’re going to be near water that’s at all deep or fast, include life vests and be sure to use them. And sunglasses will protect everyone, not just from the glare, but also from any errant casts.
5) pick your spot
An adult’s idea of the perfect fishing trip might be the bank of a swift trout stream deep in the forest, where said adult may relish the meditative side of fishing and not care about, you know, catching fish; kids, not so much. Ask around, do some Googling, and find the right easy-to-reach shore, dock, or pier in a spot that’s known for bluegill or crappies and/or regularly stocked. You want action.
Try a few practice casts in the front yard with just a bobber on the line, so your young anglers can get the feel of it.
7) GO AT DAWN OR DUSK
Go in the morning or evening, when the fish are more likely to be feeding. Don’t plan on a full day of fishing on their first trip.
8) help the youngin’
Don’t expect to do any fishing yourself the first time you head out with the kids (or possibly even the second or third time…). You’ll want to concentrate on helping the newbie(s) learn the basics of baiting, casting, watching the bobber, beingpatient, feeling the line, and landing the catch. Besides, you’re the official photographer.
9) to eat or not to eat
Catch and release? Fry ‘em up for supper? The choice is obviously yours. If you want to eat your catch, make sure there are no advisories against eating fish from that body of water and keep only what you can eat. If you plan to catch and release, a net will help you get enough control to remove the hook without having to yank the fish out of the water. Either way, you can model respect for the environment and our fellow species.
10) have fun!
Toss pebbles in the pond, take a break, and explore. The more fun your young one has the first time out, the better your chances of raising a kid who’ll want to join you again and again.
Here are a few suggestions for local spots that are ideal for fishing with kids.
Rudd Pond, Millerton
Morgan Lake, Poughkeepsie
Round Lake, Monroe
Silver Mine Lake, Harriman State Park
Onteora Lake, Town of Kingston
Sturgeon Pool, Rifton
For directions, details, or more choices, take a look at the DEC website: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7940.