5 Tips For Introducing Kids to Fly Fishing.
Kids are the future of our fisheries. With many concerning issues in regards to the future of our fisheries, one of the ways to truly protect our wetlands and fisheries is to create programs focused on the next generation of anglers. Sharing our passion for fishing and conservation, we can trust that our fisheries are in good hands. A few months ago I decided to create a kids fly fishing camp. I offered it to the kids in my area and the response was overwhelming. Truthfully, I thought maybe 2-3 kids would register but after maxing at 7 children and the remaining on a wait list, I realized how crucial it was to offer fly fishing programs for children and with limited programs and articles introducing children to the sport, I decided to write a blog post containing helpful information to ensure a successful introductory to fishing.
Whether you'd like to create your own program or simply would like advice on introducing your own kids. Here's 5 tips that help ensure that your kids will have a great time and gets hooked on fishing!
Tip #1 location is everything. Think Easy Access and Abundance of Fish.
Try to avoid locations that are difficult to access and can be tough fishing. I often like to take beginner anglers to ponds because they tend to be wide open and it's difficult to get hung up. Your location should have minimal obstacles because the last thing you want is for the kids flies to be stuck in a tree on every back cast. You want this to be an easy experience for everyone. Still water fishing is ideal for beginners also when learning how to fight the fish. Not having the current against them the first time they hook into a fish, it allows for them to understand how to safely and quickly bring in fish.
Tip #2 Less time on the water is better.
This is possibly the most important tip that gets overlooked often. Kids attention spans are short, so dragging on a fishing trip for hours on end is going to result into loss of interest. That's everything you want to avoid doing. Even if the fishing is great, end the trip after 2-3 hours to keep the excitement there. The younger the kids the shorter amount of time you should be fishing but this varies depending on interest. If all goes well, they will be begging to go fishing again.
Tip #3 Patience is key. Focus on more things than just the fish.
It can be frustrating having to repeat yourself, and more than likely you'll be repeating "Pause on that back cast"and "set" about 80 times before they actually do it. The more supportive and encouraging you are, the better the outcome. If they start to get frustrated. Put down the rod and talk to them about something else. A few things that works for me is to talk about the bugs around the water, comparing those to the flies I have and letting them select their own. Also, Look for fish and determine what type they are. Rainbow trout, Brown trout, crappie, bass or whatever you are fishing for. Anything that gets them excited.
Tip #4 Include games.
Here's some personal suggestions on games to incorporate into your day. Especially if you plan on creating a kids fishing event.
ISpy is a fun game that you can easily plan without any prior planning. If fishing is slow, you can play this to keep things light and fun.
How to: "The game starts with a simple declaration by one player: "I spy something _____." The blank is filled in with any adjective (i.e., purple, fuzzy, tall, square). It is up to the opposite player(s) to guess what it is the first player spies." - via grandparents.com
Another game I started incorporating into my kids fishing camps. A game created by NFSP (National Fishing In Schools Program) contains a water scene Target and velcro patch cards with color illustrations of each insect stage for Mayfly, Caddisfly & Stonefly. I've been having the kids look at the chart, put the insects in order, splitting into two groups and then racing each other to complete the entire life cycle for each on the water scene target. (sounds more complicated than it is) You can view more about the game and purchase one here NFSP PROGRAM GAME
Tip #5 Don't Forget To Teach Them The Important Stuff
Throughout my kids trips, I try to explain everything i'm doing. I mean everything... we often forget the little things to mention, because we learned so long ago but these are important things to mention to children. It's always the why's that kids often ask. Why we like to fly fish, why fish eat bugs, why don't we use bait, why don't we keep the fish... and it's important to teach them the "whys" so they understand the meaning of fly fishing. It's not just catching an abundance of fish with hot dogs and treble hooks. A few things that you should cover when you're fishing is keeping them wet and in the net, getting our hands wet before we touch the fish, the beauty and differences between each fish caught and gently releasing the fish. Let's teach them to love the fish, not just fishing itself.
Here's just a few tips to help you have a successful day on the water. Kids are naturally curious and excited to learn new things. The excitement is contagious and inspiring and I couldn't think of a better activity that truly instills family values and an appreciation for nature. Have fun and good luck!