By Peter Phelps
With the recent release of D.Y.F.C (Daiwa Young Fishing Club) I thought what better time to share some of my experiences of fishing with kids.
From screaming around in fiberglass bass boat, racing the clock trying to catch as many fish as I could over a weekend to now with the most recent addition to the family, my one-year-old daughter, how things have changed. The fire is still there to fish tournaments and it’s something I’m not ready to give up just yet.
Spending time with the family comes first when it comes to fishing tournaments, plus the new world we live in now with lockdowns and restrictions the present future of traveling far to go fishing is uncertain.
Start at the Beginning
You may be new to fishing or have kids who need the basic building blocks to light that fire inside for fishing. Going back to basics and introducing kids to fishing is something I’ve really enjoyed. I often think back to my childhood and how much I loved our family holidays over summer. Coming from inland NSW my mum and dad would drag us over to the coast for camping trips by the water and of course fishing. More handlines than fishing rods and the ones we used had broken off tips with guides held on by electrical tape and reels that barely spin form the sand and salt. Still to this day they're some of my fondest memories. I'm looking forward to building on those memories with my own kids.
One thing I've learnt fairly quickly coming from a strong lure fishing back ground is not to expect them to throw lures for hours on end. Starting out with bait fishing will get bites and at least some undersize fish coming in, these keep kids interested more than trying to catch the biggest fish swimming around. Owning a boat and taking kids out is not always the best place to start out. Not having toilets on board if you have girls or the added dangers of foul weather blowing up makes moving around hazardous for little kids.
There are plenty of fish to be caught off the bank or jetties around. Most of the juvenile fish species will live in the shallows until they get larger anyway. Hiding in amongst the weed, timber and rock or under a jetty. You don’t need the heaviest sinker and to cast the furthest out into the middle, all the fish you need will be close to the shore. A little bit of looking on satellite imagines can find some hidden fishing spots. Whether it's a bend or hole in a river system with a road leading right up to it. A little bay out of the wind and current on your local lake or estuary. Doing a little bit of research will make for a better fishing experience. Independent kids that like to cast their own rods is great to see.
Keep it Simple
Running a set up that helps them with casting is a must. The best rig I've found for kids is a simple running sinker down onto a plastic bead then small bait keeper hook. This rig has all the weight at the end of the line making it easy to cast. No trace or swivel up the line swinging around getting caught around rod tips. No more winding sinkers into the rod tip when they bring a fish in. Easy and quick to re-tie if you get snagged and loose it. The plastic bead stops the knot on the hook jamming into the hole in the sinker. When this happens, it adds weight to the bait making it feel unnatural. The line can be left unattended if the kids are playing in the sand or throwing rocks and with a small amount of drag pressure the fish should hook themselves.
Running a hook size around a number 4 or 6 is ideal I found. Not too small and you can still catch large fish and not to big that they will catch nothing at all when only small fish around. I like a bait holder style hook because I generally only use two baits. Whether I'm fishing the salt I will peel a prawn and break it down so it's just slightly longer that the hook. When I'm fishing fresh water, I'm using garden worms. Prawns or worms I feed them onto the hook and make sure they lay flat and the hook point it exposed. These 2 baits will get you the most attention on whatever water way you're fishing. Digging for garden worms is an added activity to do with the kids. Most gardens with some moisture around should have a few worms.
Fishing in the warmer months certainly has there advantages over the cooler months. Kids inevitably get wet or muddy plus the fishing is much better when its warmer. At the time of writing some parts of Australia are in lock down and we are all hopeful we are over the curve, on our way out of lock down or softening the restrictions. Spring and summer only around the corner, I hope we will all be out on the water with our kids very soon.
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