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Fishing is an activity the entire family can enjoy. As a parent, you get to see the unbridled delight of a son or daughter catching their first fish. For the child, they get to enjoy a pleasant day on the water, learning a skill that can give them a lifetime of enjoyment.
The best approach is to keep the gear as simple as possible. A good starter set for younger children is an inexpensive rod-and-reel combination that features a closed-face reel (also known as a spin-cast reel). By design, it will limit line tangles. The folks at your local bait and tackle shop can help you match the rod to the reel and select appropriate fishing line as well as terminal tackle (hooks, sinkers, bobbers, etc.) Remember to get yourself a HookEze Knot Tying Tool so that you can spend more time with your kids instead of just tying knots and rigs!
Beginners and kids should go with live bait, preferably earthworms (which also will be available at that local bait and tackle shop). Worms are easy to put on a hook, and they don’t require any sophisticated action or technique to entice a bite from a fish. Simply pull the hook through the middle of the worm, leaving both ends free. Attach a bobber to the line and then clamp on some weight (“split shot”) a few inches below the bobber. The weight of the split shot gets the bait down to the fish. You’re all set.
Small ponds and lakes that hold panfish such as crappies, catfish, bluegills and other sunfish are ideal spots to fish because your young charges won’t have to deal with the current of a river. Have everyone cast their lines into the water and then sit back and wait for those bobbers to dip under, signalling a fish is on the line. In most cases, the fish hook themselves, so all you have to do is tell your kid to reel in. Unhook the fish, re-bait, and have them cast again.
In many cases you can do all this from shore. But if you do fish from a boat (or if the family is fishing on a dock over deeper water), make sure everyone is wearing a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and make sure you've got your eyes on your kids, always.
Don’t forget to take lots of pictures of their first fish. You’ll enjoy the memory in the years to come, and your kids will enjoy those images as well.