What you need to fish
In my previous post Take A Kid Fishing I discussed the benefits of taking your kids fishing. In this post I would like to provide a fishing trip essentials list to help you prepare for you fishing trip. There is nothing more frustrating then taking a kid fishing and you just don’t catch a single fish and most of the time the reason you don’t catch a fish is you don’t have the right equipment. It can be discouraging not only for you the parent but also for the kids. And if they get discouraged they may just give up after one fishing trip.
When you decide to embark on a fishing trip the first rule to follow when catching a fish is to be prepared. Make sure you have everything you need to catch a fish before you head out. If you get to the fishing spot and forget hooks, you obviously won’t catch many fish. But when you have all the necessary equipment it removes those roadblocks.
Fishing Trip Essentials
A tackle box is not necessarily required, but this makes carrying all of your other equipment around much easier. It also will have dividers to help keep things neat and organized. I wouldn’t spend much money on a tackle box to start. Probably just a starter kids kit with a few dividers will work.
To catch a fish you need hooks, or at least a lure that has a hook on the end. My suggestion here is to buy a pack that includes various sizes. Make sure you get some small hooks at the minimum. You can also try lures but I don’t recommend this for kids as there can be a bit of a learning curve.
A pole is also a helpful tool but not entirely required. When I was younger and we didn’t have a pole that worked and we had some fishing line and a hook. The only thing missing was a sturdy stick or a cane pole. You could also hand line but that is a little more advanced method of catching fish. For first time fishing a small pole for kids is really good. You can teach them how to reel it in and cast it out. Having a pole makes it easier to cast further and they make some really cool looking kids fishing poles which helps build the excitement of fishing.
If you have a pole with a reel then the fishing line should be in the reel. This is only required if you don’t want to buy a pole and just use a stick or a cane pole.
Bobbers or floats help fisherman to know when they are getting a bite or have a fish on. For kids just learning how to fish I fully recommend using them. They make it easy to know when they are getting a bite, and the excitement of seeing that bobber go up and down is almost as fun as catching a fish.
Sinkers or weights help to keep your bait from floating on top of the water. This one isn’t required either but help aide in catching a fish, so I highly recommend getting a small bag of smaller sinkers. No reason to get big ones unless you are fishing in a really swift waters.
Make sure you have something to actually put on your hook. For starters the best bait hands down is to use some worms. Most stores that sell bait and even convenience stores will have worms for sale. If you really want to have some fun, get a shovel and dig them up in your yard.
If the idea of putting worms on a hook gross you out there a few alternatives. Hot dogs cut into small pieces will attract several different types of fish. The first time I took one of my kids fishing we used hot dogs and caught a 14 inch large-mouth bass. Very unexpected but if the fish are hungry they will eat a hot dog. Perch and Blue-Gill will not only eat hot dog but will also eat corn. You can get a small can of whole kernel corn and put one or two on your hook.
Check your state and local laws to see if or your kids require a fishing license. In most states if your kids are under 16 they can fish without a license. Also in most states if you are fishing on private land in a private pond or lake you don’t need a fishing license. Even some pay to fish lakes cover your license for you. Just make sure to check the laws to avoid a potential ticket or fine.
A list of some other fishing trip essentials that might help make catching a fish a little easier and/or make your fishing trip a bit more enjoyable.
Patience is the name of the game when fishing. It never fails when I take my son fishing to see how quickly he becomes tired when the fish are not biting. He can ride his bike for hours straight or play in the yard nonstop without sitting or resting. But after about 15 minutes of catching no fish he needs to sit down and rest. So having a good chair to take a rest really helps extends the length of your fishing trip.
It is always a good idea to have some bug spray handy or to spray everyone down before you head out. When fishing by small ponds there is a good chance that the mosquitos will eat you alive. And if you have to walk through some tall weeds the bug spray can help keep the ticks and chiggers away. Try and avoid getting the spray on your hands as the smell can transfer to your bait and possibly keep the fish away.
Even on cooler days the sun can do some serious damage to your skin. Having a hat, sunglasses, and some sunscreen can help protect you and avoid a sunburn if you are out too long. Long pants and shirts can substitute sunscreen. Remember to keep the sunscreen off your hands if possible as it can have the same affect as bug spray and keep the fish away if you get it on your bait or lure.
If your kids are older you might want to consider using some lures. Lures can attract bigger fish and the action of casting out and reeling in usually keeps them entertained longer. Just don’t go too far and spend a ton of money on fishing lures. A few spoons and some jig tails or plastic worms will do.
My kids can’t seem to go an hour without needing a snack. To avoid an early departure due to starvation make sure you bring a good snack. Granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, or fruit snacks are good snacks to keep them going until they can eat a real meal.
Water bottles (filled)
If it is a hot day make sure to take a water bottle filled with water. Being out in the sun can dehydrate you and your kids quickly. The water will help everyone stay hydrated and cooled down a little and beat the heat. Even if it doesn’t seem very hot the kids always seem to want a drink. If you don’t have a drink on hand then it can end the fishing trip real quick.
Rag or Gloves
When catching and releasing fish the less you can touch the fish with your hands the better it is for the fish. Having a glove for handling fish or a rag to grab hold of the fish increases the chance for the fish to survive. It also helps keep your hands clean and allows you to better grip the fish.
Sometimes the fish just swallow the hook. When this happens if it doesn’t go down too far you can grab the hook with a pair of fishing pliers (needle nose will work also). If you can’t see the hook usually your best bet is to cut the line as the hook will eventually dissolve.
Knife or Clippers
Fishing line can be pretty tough once you go larger than a 8 lb test. Having a knife to cut the line will save you some frustration. When fishing with kids I usually pack fingernail clippers in my tackle box to cut line. This way I don’t have to worry about my kids playing with a knife and hurting themselves. If you plan on keeping fish you may need a good knife to clean the fish for cooking.
Basket or Stringer
If you want to keep fish it is always a good idea to keep them alive as long as you are fishing. Having a fishing basket or stringer is a way to keep your fish alive longer until you are ready to head home or until you can clean and cook them.
First Aid Kit
When dealing with knives and sharp hooks there is a chance that someone might get a cut. Also the fins and spines of the fish can be sharp and easily cause a cut. In these cases it is good to have a first aid kit handy. Just something small with some alcohol wipes and some band-aids to patch up and stop the bleeding. Having a larger kit in your car is always handy in emergencies, but while fishing a small kit will typically keep you covered in the event of an injury.
Just remember when you take kids fishing or if you are going fishing to go with a positive attitude. It always make the time more enjoyable and helps with being patient. If you go and are just not in the mood then it can ruin the experience and ruin the joy for your kids. Make everything about the experience as positive as you can. Even if they get a bite make a big deal. Because sometimes that is all you get. But that enjoyment and excitement will stay with them.
Just remember this list of fishing trip essentials isn’t an exhaustive list. There is so much more you can take with you. But also remember not to overdo it. The first time you go bring the basics and have fun, trying to pack everything might ruin the experience. Fishing is such a rewarding and memorable activity to do with kids. The memories you make will last you a lifetime.
Anything you think I missed? Drop a comment below or let us know on our Facebook page.
I had no idea you needed a fishing license to fish, I thought you just needed permission from whomever owns the land. Learn something new everyday
If it is private land you can sometimes get away without a fishing license. But in most states anywhere that is not private land they require a fishing license. Even for private land if they had it stocked through a state program sometimes they require a fishing license.
Hi Greg. What a great summary – you just took me back 40 years to when I first went fishing with my dad! I remember that we caught a huge Perch (well, it seemed huge at the time!) and that one fish on my first trip was enough to see me through the barren days that all anglers face sometimes. I remember all the odd things that used to work as bait too; sweetcorn, luncheon meat, cheese, bread, and, of course, maggots!
Yes. One of my favorite things as a kid was getting a chance to go fish with my dad. Not much was said. But it was always a good time.
Fishing is an essential for me! I think getting kids out in the water is an incredible way to introduce them to nature, conservation, biology and more.
Like you said keeping patient and a good attitude is key. Kids will reflect and enhance any attitude they see us giving and that includes our character flaws.
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