When Taking Kids Fishing Keep Things Simple
By Marc Rogers
Young children, particularly young boys, do not always have the ability to remain interested in things very long. When fishing during a slow bite this becomes very evident in the behavior exhibited. When presenting live bait under a bright color bobber, children like to retrieve the offering repeatedly, whether getting bites or not. Also, children love to explore their surroundings while outdoors and doing so will interrupt fishing. There are ways to take advantage of these behaviors while making things easier on yourself.
Keeping it simple means allowing children the freedom to take breaks from fishing and explore their surroundings. There are many learning opportunities available near any body of water where fish live. Give them time to discover new things and answer questions they have. If you do not know the answer, look for information together at a later time. Being a teacher is fantastic way to learn new things yourself.
Quite frequently, I participate in fishing excursions with two or more young boys. During these outings we seldom use live bait. They are outfitted with spincast combos and simple artificial lures. When choosing rods for children, consider rods that are similar in length to the child’s height, this will work best for them.
Simple artificial lures I use most often when taking children include small spinners, small soft-plastic lures and ultra-light panfish jigs. These are easy to cast for children using light spincast equipment. All of these lure types mentioned need to be moving to impart action and attract fish. This is how I take advantage of their desire to constantly cast and retrieve. This also relieves me of the busy job of keeping two or more hooks covered with bait.
The small spinner I choose most often is a panfish sized safety pin style with a small jig below a blade. Often called Beetle Spins do to a popular brand name, this style of spinnerbait is easier to use by children than in-line spinners. In-line spinners will produce line twist when retrieved. Line twist will wreak havoc on spincasting gear causing tangles and difficult casting situations.The bent wires make the lure weed resistant and produce less hang-ups than in-line spinners. Another advantage to Beetle Spin style lures is the have a single hook versus a treble hook most in-line spinners have, again reducing hang-ups.
Soft-plastic worms, grubs and crawfish are ideal when chasing panfish and bass in both large and small waters. Both of my boys prefer a four-inch plastic worm rigged on a 3/16 ounce shaky head over any lures available. The versatility of this rig allows them to present it anywhere in the water column. The will often drag it along the bottom to entice strikes from bass, but simply casting and swimming it back will also produce hard strikes from aggressive bass.
Using a shaky head allows me to rig the worm weedless for fewer hang-ups. Weedless lures reduce my workload and their frustration.
Plastic grubs can be rigged several ways. Large grubs can easily be presented on a shaky head or a standard jig head with an open hook. Smaller grubs – approximately two inches or less – are best used on standard jig. The smaller offerings entice panfish most often, but are capable of catching larger fish as well. The smaller grubs are effective using a cast-and-retrieve method or hanging 12 – 18 inches below a bobber. Weighted bobbers make casting these light lures easier.
While effective anywhere, when fishing small creeks and rivers, it is hard to beat a small, plastic crayfish imitator. These too, I rig on a shaky head or other weedless style jig head. This rig is simple for an angler of any age to present to both panfish and smallmouth bass. Teach the child to cast the lure above large rocks, fallen timber or submerged tree roots then allow the lure to be washed downstream on a semi tight line. This presentation resembles the movement of an injured or escaping crawfish and will draw vicious strikes from smallmouth bass.
These three simple rigs, matched with a good dose of patience, will create some great memories of time spent on the water. Remember, these trips are for the children. Giving them the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, along with fishing will make the outing more pleasurable for both you and the child. One last tip, do not take a fishing rod for your own use. If you are paying enough attention to the youngster(s) you will not have time to fish. Doing so, will cause both you are your little partner frustration and spoil a great opportunity.