Noah Chapman with a PB grunter.

How to Go Fishing With Kids (& Still Have Fun)

Have you ever been fishing with kids but struggled to really get them to engage? Read on for some tips on keeping it fun for all involved.

AS a father, I find it such a buzz for my little (well maybe not so little) offsider to feel the thrill and excitement of feeling a bite, hooking and fighting the fish and finally sliding it into the landing net.

My son and I are both lucky to be part of a family that enjoys the outdoors, whether it be fishing, rolling out a swag or just enjoying the great natural beauty on our doorstep. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all beer and skittles, and fishing with kids has its issues. But sometimes it’s not always the children who throw the spanner in the works. Occasionally we adults lose our parent hats and put too much emphasis on a prized catch, getting lost in the moment. I’ve been there and done that and it’s disappointing for the child as well as a kick in the pants for us parents.

Fishing with kids can be a whole lot of fun, and the more fun you make it, the more your kids are going to want to fish and the better they will become. It’s win, win for everyone. Things we find mundane can be a lot of fun for kids, such as sweating your backside off pumping yabbies. Kids find that a blast.

What more fun could a young boy or girl have than playing in muddy sand and running around picking up little crawly things? Throwing a cast net can be as exciting for a kid as actually sitting in a boat or on a bank and fishing because chances are they will catch plenty of small fish they can kiss and throw back. This also teaches kids the importance of carefully releasing any unwanted fish.

I’m a firm believer that when kids are younger they really don’t care what they catch, as long as they are catching something. They may want to catch a bigger fish like Dad or Mum has, but in the end they just want to have something biting their line. If not, their small window of concentration disappears very quickly.

The author’s son with a Corio Bay bream.
The author’s son with a Corio Bay bream.
A happy little fisherman. The smile says it all!
A happy little fisherman. The smile says it all!
Noah Chapman with a PB grunter.
Noah Chapman with a PB grunter.
If a child hasn’t fished too much before, sitting on a snag and soaking a big live bait is a recipe for disaster. Generally this type of fishing requires patience and perseverance, and is something that kids can work towards.

Land-based options abound on the Capricorn Coast and make for great locations to take keen little fishos to wet a line. They don’t even have to be far out of the way. Places such as Causeway Lake, Bluff Rocks and Kinka and Zilzie beaches are on our doorstep and don’t need much planning to visit for a fun fish with the kids.

For those with a boat at their disposal, Corio Bay and Coorooman and Pumpkin creeks can make for fantastic fishing and bait gathering spots where kids and adults can catch a good feed of estuary fish.

One thing to remember when boating with kids is that if they are under 12 and the boat is under 4.8m long, they need to be wearing a lifejacket whenever the boat is under way. I find that keeping it pretty simple makes all the difference when fishing with kids.

You don’t have to tie the world’s most complicated rig. For example, a basic running sinker rig with a hook and sinker to match the area you are fishing will suit most situations. It’s no use having a 6 ball sinker, 60lb wire trace and a 7/0 hook when targeting whiting. All this does is limit the chances your kids have of catching anything.

Try to keep things as light as possible. A relatively small spin reel spooled with light mono and a soft-tipped rod that allows them to feel bites is all that’s needed. Match this with a small sinker, suitable-size hook and light mono leader and you’re all set for some fun.

It’s amazing just how much information a child can absorb in a very short time. Let them ask lots of silly questions because it’s the way they learn. Also explain why you’re fishing in a certain location, what bait is good for different species and how fish move with tides.

All these little bits of information will help them to understand how and why we catch fish. The most important thing is to make it fun. The more fun they have, the more interested they will be in fishing again.

About Gregg Chapman

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