Going fishing with your little ones can be a wonderful experience and give you real quality time with your children. It takes a lot of planning and patience to make such a trip a memorable moment, which both you and your kids will want to experience more often. To help you succeed, I wrote this extensive parental guide on how to take your kids fishing.
The most important things to think of when planning a fishing trip with your kids is food, clothing, toys and flexibility. These are the basics which ensure that you will have a great time together with your little ones, no matter how much or little fishing you will be doing. It is all about spending quality time together outdoors.
This article contains everything you need to know about taking your kids fishing. Let’s get started!
How Do You Make Fishing Fun for Kids?
The best advice I can give you is to be super flexible and actually not focus so much on the fishing itself, no matter if it’s you or your kids who are doing the fishing. To them, it is much more about the outdoor experience itself and about the time they spent with you playing and exploring on the bank.
Whether you’re actually going to catch something is secondary, at best. Of course, the excitement of catching a fish together with mummy or daddy is amazing to kids, but usually, it is rather short-lived.
A common fishing trip routine in our family can look like this: I and the kids fish together for about an hour or two, then we have a snack or cook lunch, which is followed by either a nap (which is an opportunity for me to do some grown-up fishing), playtime or strolling around and exploring nature.
If you are into fishing, you can pursue it seriously when you are going by yourself. Fishing with kids is really just another way of spending quality time with your loved ones. But it is so much more than just fishing, and if you’re doing it right, it can be highly rewarding!
You see, fishing is really only one component when it comes to fishing trips with kids. It is far away from being the central activity you and your kids are going to focus on during that trip. And that is totally fine, I think!
If you keep that in mind and instead focus on the following tips and things to bring, your kids will love your fishing trips and will most likely be willing to follow you more than once.
What to Bring on a Fishing Trip With Kids?
I have two little daughters and have brought them fishing with me countless times. Over the years, I have perfected the art of taking my kids fishing and I am very thankful that I get the chance of spending so much extra time with them on the bank!
In order to make every fishing trip a fun and positive experience for them and me, a lot of planning and structuring is required. Forgetting one little detail can end your trip prematurely! So, it is crucial to always make a list of things to bring when fishing with kids. Here is my list of essentials:
It is extremely crucial to always have enough food when your kids are with you! All that fresh air makes them super hungry and if they can’t munch on something, pretty much all the time, you will be riding home very quickly.
Never forget snacks, such as fruits, nuts, chips, or chocolate, as those are always highly appreciated and easy to bring.
For longer trips, you can bring your gas stove or grill along with you and prepare some nice pasta with meatballs and ketchup, Or why not a nice little BBQ with hot dogs or burgers. Kids love grilled food on a fishing trip.
Also, make sure to always have enough water and some juice or lemonade with you, as it is very important for the kids and you to stay hydrated.
I actually wrote another super detailed post on optimal foods and drinks to bring on a fishing trip (with kids) that you should definitely read as well: Best and Easiest Foods to Bring on a Fishing Trip
Another highly important aspect of a successful fishing trip with kids. If they are cold or freezing, you will have to break and drive home. So make sure that they stay warm!
The best way to ensure that is by doing these two things:
- Dress them in many layers of clothing
- Bring extra clothing for them
The advantage of multi-layered clothing is that it keeps the body warm and dry in cold weather and that you can easily take off layers when it’s getting too warm outside.
Extra clothing is always a good idea, as kids are naturally drawn to anything that is wet and dirty (such as puddles, mud, or soil). And while it is a lot of fun playing with and in such things, they do have a tendency of making your kids’ clothing wet and damp.
So, let them play around with their mud and water for a while, and then change their clothing, in order to continue your fishing trip with them and avoid future colds.
For children up to at least 8 years of age, I recommend always putting on a life jacket, when they are playing on their own or strolling around on the bank.
It’s a different thing altogether if you are with them and you have total control and vision on them at all times. But if you don’t, you just cannot be 100% sure that they won’t just jump or fall into the water!
Life jackets are the best life insurance for kids on a fishing trip. Never forget them at home or in the basement!
Toys & Games
If you want your kids to stay entertained while being on a fishing trip with you, you have to bring their toys!
Toys actually allow you to get some fishing done, should your intention be to do some fishing on your own while having the kids with you. Sometimes, they actually want to take a break from fishing with you, or from the whole outdoor experience in general, sit down and start playing with their toys.
Bringing board games is another great way to keep your fishing trip fun and exciting for your kids. No fishing for you while playing, but you can definitely put in some quality time with your kids this way!
Some of our favorite board games for the outdoors, or in a tent, include Yahtzee, Guess Who, and Monopoly.
Generally, my wife and I are not fans of multimedia gadgets for our kids, we like to stimulate them in lots of other ways. But for trips of any kind, a tablet with a few cartoons, movies, or music videos on it is a great help to make the trip a little more fun and varied.
Maybe the fish aren’t biting, or your kids are simply a little bored or tired from all the fresh air and running around. A little movie break here and there can be the most appreciated thing in the world for a kid on a fishing trip.
Insider tip: Watch time on the table is usually followed by a little nap, which can give you, the parent, a nice little break as well!
Just make sure you buy a rugged tablet that is both water-resistant and drop-proof. Trust me, without these features, it will not last very long!
Bringing chairs for the kids and you will definitely improve comfort while fishing and being outdoors. Kids can get tired pretty fast when having to stand up for a longer period of time.
Chairs are also helpful when you want to eat lunch or dinner outside! They just make the stay feel homier to the kids, which is a huge advantage. Chairs can also be used for taking naps if you bring some small blankets and pillows with you. That’s actually more cozy than you’d think!
When you are bringing a toddler on your fishing trip, having an all-terrain stroller with you will make life so much easier! There are several reasons for why that is:
- You don’t have to carry your toddler
- The stroller acts both as a chair and bed for your little one
- It can protect your toddler from sun and rain
- There is room for storage (toys, diapers, food, extra clothing, etc)
If your toddler is a little too tired and upset to fall asleep during your trip, you can also take him or her for a little walk along the bank! Does the trick every time!
If you are planning a longer fishing trip (over an entire day or perhaps even an overnighter), bringing camping gear with you is vital. Here is some basic camping gear that you should consider for a longer fishing trip with the kids:
- Gas stove or grill for cooking
- Camping Cookware
- A tent or a bivvy
- Sleeping bags
- Camping Mats
- A Camping Light
- A Cool Box
If your car space and general strength allow for it, bringing a tent and sleeping bags for day trips is also a very good idea, as these will provide a very cozy shelter and nap place for your little ones. The tent can also be great for playing games; you can for example play hide and seek in and around it, or turn it into a fantasy castle!
Here is an in-depth article on bivvies, which are special fishing tents, which are great to bring on overnight fishing trips: What Is a Fishing Bivvy? (A Complete Guide)
If you want to read up on the best camping gear to bring on a fishing trip and get my personal tips and recommendations, head over to this section:
Kids Fishing Gear
Of course, you want your kids to also be fishing when taking them on a fishing trip!
For kids up to 6 years, I’d recommend using a whip, which is a simple telescopic fishing pole without a reel. At that age, kids are simply not great at casting out and reeling it yet. Use a pole length of 3-5m, which is a good whip length to handle for small arms and hands.
For older kids, a basic reel&rod combo is definitely a great choice, especially if they want to get into fishing a little more seriously. Training how to cast, reel, and actually fight a fish will teach them valuable fishing skills for the rest of their lives.
By the way, if you’d like to read up on how to start fishing (both you and your kids), and what gear you’ll need specifically, make sure to check out this article I wrote on the topic: How to Actually Start Fishing (Ultimate Beginner’s Guide)
First Aid Kit
This is something that you should always have with you on a fishing trip, but it is even more crucial when taking the kids.
A first aid kit can both take care of smaller injuries and prevent these from ending your fishing trip prematurely.
So, make sure you always have a first aid kit stored in your car or fishing bag.
A Lot of Patience and Flexibility
Lastly, I want to stress that the kids must always be priority number one. They have a lot of needs and it’s not always easy to bring them on a fishing trip. Regardless of how excited they might be about the idea, the actual thing can turn out to be something completely different, for them and you.
Have patience with them and always make them come first, you will all appreciate the trip so much more if you do. And if they don’t like to go fishing, if they get too bored, tired or scared and want to go home, just do it! There is absolutely no need to force things. That just creates a lot of unnecessary stress and tension.
Just have a great time with your little ones in nature!
How Should You Be Fishing With Kids?
When using a whip, the logical way to fish would be with a float or bobber. This is also the fishing method I would suggest when using a reel&rod combo that you can cast with.
The reasons for that are simple. First of all, your kids will probably have a hard time casting out anything when they start to go fishing with you. Fishing with lures, and hence, having to cast out frequently, would be a very hard thing to do for them.
Second of all, fishing with a float and bait on the hook will most likely produce a fish quicker than a lure would. Your kids might only catch a very little fish, like a minnow or a perch, but the size of the catch doesn’t matter at all now, does it?
To see those happy faces and those round eyes that are filled with wonder and amazement is the real catch! Couple that with your kids’ true and wonderful joy when they have caught their first fish, and you will probably never mind catching a tiny fish ever again. It really is magic seeing that kind of happiness arise in them!
So, just help them with casting out their little floats, or guide them, if they want to try it on their own, use a little worm, bread or sweetcorn on the hook, wait for that float to disappear, and let the magic run its course.
What Is the Best Fishing Gear for Kids?
Now that we have gone through all the necessary basics to bring on a fishing trip with your kids, I thought I’d recommend some of the most appropriate gear for such trips, which I am using myself together with my two daughters.
If your kids prefer a common fishing pole with a reel (UK & USA), try to go for something basic, but avoid those commonly advertised kids fishing poles that basically look like toys. They actually cost a lot of money and have rather poor quality.
Instead, go for a reel&rod combo that is suited for kids but still has some basic quality to it. You can actually find such gear for the same amount of money as said toy rods, if not for less!
A solid and kid-friendly choice is the Lixada Fishing Rod Reel Combo. It consists of a telescopic pole of 1.3m-1.5m (4-5 feet), a light spinning reel, a bag case, and some basic tackle (hooks, fishing line, and lures). You can find it on Amazon: here
If you are going for a whip (UK), it should have a length of 3-5m and come already equipped with a ready-made rig, consisting of a 6 lb mainline, a float, some sinkers or split shots, and a basic size 8-10 fishing hook.
My oldest daughter Temperance caught her first fish on a whip called LEEDA Concept GT Telescopic Whip, which is a rather stiff and easy-to-hold rod of 3-4m. It is a quality whip for a very good price.
You can find the LEEDA Concept GT Whip on Amazon (UK): here
Best Kids Life Jackets for Fishing Trips
As mentioned above, life jackets are a cheap and safe life insurance for your kids! You should always bring them when taking your kids fishing, both on land or in a boat.
Kids’ life jackets used to be very bulky and rather uncomfortable to wear. Nowadays, they have a much better design if you are buying the right size for your kids, they will not disturb them while walking, or even running around on the bank.
It should basically be like wearing a normal jacket, that’s when you know you’ve bought the right kind of life jacket for your kid!
For younger kids up to 3 years, I recommend the OldPapa Kids Swim Vest in sizes S (8-18kg) and M (18-25kg). It’s a very comfortable and flexible little jacket that can also be used for swimming learning.
This vest really allows your toddler to stay active and move around freely, while still providing all the necessary security features to your kid, including portable relief straps, buckles, a zipper to easily put on and take off the vest, an adjustable crotch strap, and improved floating ability.
For kids older kids, between the ages of 4 to 10 years, A larger life jacket is needed, which, however, does not mean that it should be bulkier or any less comfortable than the one for smaller children.
Sporty alternatives are a very good pick here. They allow for free and easy movement, while still providing space for some extra clothing underneath them.
Our oldest now, now 8 years old, uses the classic Helly Hansen Sport Life Jacket, which seems to be the choice for many parents, as I see plenty of kids wearing them near a body of water.
Best All-Terrain Stroller for Fishing Trips
Both my daughters have been fishing with me since they were toddlers. When they are that small, they spend most of their time sitting or laying down, which means that a good stroller or buggy is one of the most essential things to bring on a fishing trip with kids.
Having used an all-terrain stroller from the start, I can honestly say that these types of strollers are perfectly built for fishing trips, and they are really easy to handle in tough terrain, even when you only have one hand available.
We had our first stroller for 7 years, and during all that time it remained fully functioning, even after hundreds of fishing trips with the little ones!
Of course, strollers develop and evolve over time and a lot has happened when it comes to material, functionality, and price over the last 7 years. That’s why I bought a new stroller last year when our second daughter Mazi turned one and I started to take her on fishing trips.
So, based on my own experience, I can strongly recommend the Papilioshop REBEL Pushchair. It’s a very modern and smartly designed jogger stroller, which is perfectly suited for uneven terrain. This is mostly thanks to its 16” rear wheels, which is a super feature to have for an off-road stroller!
Thanks to their size, those wheels won’t get stuck in holes in the ground, or wet or muddy surfaces the way smaller wheels would! You will encounter such grounds and surfaces rather often when you are on your way to a fishing spot
And getting stuck with the stroller wheels, while steering with one hand and carrying a bunch of other equipment with the other, is anything but fun!
Another great feature of the Rebel Pushchair is its front swivel wheel, which makes the stroller easy to maneuver around obstacles and tight spaces.
The front wheel is, of course, much smaller, but as it is so flexible and most of the weight is on the rear end of the stroller, it makes it very easy to control and steer. On more even surfaces, you can actually maneuver it using only your thumb and index finger, it is that light and well balanced!
I also like the fact that it has plenty of storage underneath, that is has a roomy footrest, and that it has a super fast and easy folding mechanism. It’s also really comfortable for the child to sit or sleep in. All in all, the perfect fishing stroller!
If you are interested in buying the Papilioshop REBEL Pushchair, you can find it on Amazon: here
Best Tablet for Outdoor Use
So, you have fished a little bit with them, played hide and seek, ball, cards, you have eaten lunch with them, and then played some more. If you are not on your way home by now, your kids might start to get a little bored.
Whether you are on a day trip and staying overnight in a tent, letting them watch a movie can be a great idea, and, if you want to do some fishing yourself, allows you to focus a little bit on that during their movie time.
For overnighters, it’s also a great way of rounding up the evening and getting them into their sleeping bags without further protest.
Using a tablet outdoors requires it to:
- be rugged
- have sophisticated brightness settings
- have a high maximum volume
A shock-resistant tablet with a protective case is important, as it’s easily happened that it will fall to the ground, into wet soil, or that something else is placed onto it (stones, bags, a foot).
A good brightness setting is good to have in order to adjust to the daylight’s shifting light intensities. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to see the screen’s colors and watch that movie.
The tablet of your choice should also have a rather high maximum volume, as the surrounding sounds of nature (running water, birds, wind, etc) can be rather disturbing. Alternatively, you can also purchase a headset or two.
We have been using the Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet by Amazon, which not only comes with a kid-proof case but also has a 2-year worry-free guarantee, in case something breaks. You just send it back to Amazon, and they’ll repair it for free. Pretty neat!
It also has a very long battery life and a microSD slot for extra storage, so that you can have all the movies your kids like on it. You can totally disregard all the apps and games on it though. Personally, I think those are not necessary at all, as your kids can enjoy live education and knowledge with you during your trips!
This tablet sells for under $100, which is a super price for such a gadget. If you want to find out more about it, you can find it on Amazon: here
I really hope that this parental guide will help you for your fishing trip with your kiddos! This article really showed me how much experience I have gathered as a fishing dad over the last 8 years, but also, that time goes extremely fast!
So, if you get the chance to bring your kids on some of your fishing trips, take it! Try to spend as much time with them as possible, even if some of the trips won’t go as you expect. You’ll remember those extra times spent with your kids forever!
And as a bonus, you can give your partner a well-deserved rest and a little alone time every now and again, which is certainly a very nice thing to do as well!