Fishing with kids is definitely no easy task, especially if they don’t know what they are doing. In reality we spend most of our time baiting hooks, untangling line (I am a pro at this one) or casting out for them. But fishing with kids can also be extremely rewarding at the same time. You get to spend quality time together without sitting in front of tablets, phones or just screens in general, you are in the great outdoors which is amazing for your mental health as well as making wonderful memories together.
The fact of the matter is you are probably not going to catch as much when you take your kids along especially when they are younger. A good thing to remember is that you are going to teach your kids how to fish, not bag a trophy fish yourself. I can definitely say from experience that it does get much easier as they get a bit older and start knowing what they are doing. When they can start casting on their own and changing their own lures it is a total game changer. Fishing with my kids is definitely not as stressful as it was when they were younger and we have so many fun memories from all our fishing adventures.
Fishing should always be fun, you want to make it an experience your kids will enjoy, right? If you start getting frustrated or mad at them they are not only going to lose interest very quickly but they are also not going to want to go again.
If you live in BC and are maybe unsure about buying all the gear first you can always try one of the Rod Loan Programs that the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has to offer. This Rod Loan Program is generously supported by Luhr Jensen. This amazing program lets you and your family borrow spinning rods with reels and a basic box of tackle at no cost. That way you can try out fishing with your little ones or even yourself if you have never fished before first before buying all the gear.
You can find the Rod Loan locations at the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Hatcheries, Visitor Centres as well as a few tackle shops around the province. They cover most of BC, all the way from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Interior right up to the Dawson Creek Visitors Centre here in Northern BC. During the summer months they also have mobile Rod Loan locations which they set up at various lakes through out the province. To take advantage of this program and find a Rod Loan site in your area you can go and visit Go Fish BC. Here you will find an interactive “where to fish” map and you can just click on the Rod Loan filter to show you where. You can also use the map to see which lakes have boat launches, docks and campsites, we use this map a lot to check out different fishing spots before heading out to them.
If you are not up for teaching your kids how to fish there are a lot of programs across Canada, the United States as well as Australia that are geared towards teaching kids how to fish.
The Alberta Conservation Association has the Kids Can Catch Program. This province wide program has volunteers on hand to help teach new anglers the proper ways to bait a hook, where to drop their line and then what to do once they catch they catch a fish. Every year there are multiple Kids Can Catch events held across the province so hopefully you can find one near you!
Saskatchewan, United States and Australia
Saskatchewan offers the Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs program. This Nation wide program started back in the spring of 1986. The Future Fisherman Foundation received a letter from 14 year old Mathew Deakins saying that fishing had kept him from doing drugs and felt like it could do the same for other kids like himself. In the summer of 2004 The Saskatchewan Association of Conservation Officers provided funding for two Saskatchewan conservation officers to attend a Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs course in New Jersey. They were then able to teach other conservation officers to become HOFNOD instructors as well. This program is widely used across the United States as well as Australia.
The Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs program has two fully equipped trailers with a variety of gear for kids of all ages. The really cool part is that it offers both open water and ice fishing equipment, this includes augers, heaters, and ice shelters for different weather conditions. They have conservation officers on site to teach kids the basics of fishing equipment, casting, tying knots, different baits and tackle as well as fish identification. I find this program really neat as it gives the kids the chance to try both open water as well as ice fishing!
The Manitoba Wildlife Federation offers a Learn To Fish program which is aimed aimed at people who have never fished before or maybe have but need a little refresher. All your fishing gear is provided along with local professional anglers to give you the assistance that you may need. This Learn to Fish program is offered every year through the city of Winnipeg’s Leisure Guide.
You may also of heard of me talk about the L’ïl Angler program in one of my previous articles, this one is through the Master Angler Program with Travel Manitoba. This program is geared at kids 12 and under and encourages novice anglers to get hooked on fishing. When your little angler catches their first fish, their parents can then fill out the online form on the app, website or mail one in along with a photo of the child. Travel Manitoba will then send an embroidered crest signifying their first catch as well as a certificate of achievement. This is such a great program for kids and what better way to get your little one hooked on fishing!
The Freshwater Fisheries of BC offers a Learn to Fish program for kids 5-15 years of age as well as their families This half day course teaches kids the basics of how, when and where to catch their freshwater fish along with knot tying, proper fish handling, safety and fishing regulations. Approximately 25,000 people across the province participate in this program each year. You can check out their events calendar over on their page to find a program in your area.
A really fun program that they also offer in the summer is the Summer Fishing Program. This Program is for kids ages 5-15 and the process is simple, go fishing, record your trip in your journal (you can print this page off of their website) and then enter to win a prize.
There are two ways to win a prize: 1. Go fishing on five different occasions and win a fishing tackle package. This prize will be awarded to each of the first 1000 eligible submissions. 2. Catch a fish per trip on five different fishing trips and win a Blue Fox fishing rod and reel from Luhr Jensen Canada. This prize will be awarded to the first 200 eligible submissions.
My kids participated in this program this past summer and really enjoyed filling out their fishing journals. They were both lucky enough to each win Luhr Jensen rods!
There are lots of programs offered that are geared at teaching kids how to fish, just do some research before you go and see what is on in your area. Or if you are up to it try teaching them yourself, sometimes there is more to fishing than just catching fish!