It’s official…after several months of lockdown, no school, limited activities…the kids are slowly going crazy!

Luckily, as a boat owner, you’ve got a built-in solution: take the kids out fishing. It checks all the boxes:  Outside in the sun and fresh air? Check.  Socially distanced from everyone else? Check.  A nice experience the entire family can enjoy together? Check. 

There are other benefits as well. Fishing can be educational: kids learn about different species and their habitats, feeding patterns, seasonal runs and much more. Don’t tell the kids, but a day spent fishing is like a biology lecture without the classroom.

Also, if you and the kids get lucky, there’s a chance you can land a keeper and enjoy a delicious and healthy dinner later that night. Which is also a good lesson for the young’uns about conservation, sustainable recreation and how we and all the other species here on earth are interconnected.

But as always, it’s a good idea to do a little planning before launching your fishing expeditions with the small ones. Here’s some things to keep in mind:

Attention span. Smaller kids get bored easily; but so do older kids and they are the ones most likely to let you know about it in no uncertain terms. Going fishing does not always result in catching fish. So it’s a good idea to keep a reasonable time limit for a fishing trip with kids. Smaller kids, under 10 years say, will generally do fine for two or three hours, max. Older ones will start looking at their phone screens after a half day, even if the action is hot and heavy. Plan a reasonable time out on the water and keep to it.

Safety.  PFDs for everyone, of course. Hats and sunblock as well. Make sure the kids stay hydrated (water or juice). Have some crackers or something to eat. Stress the need to stay alert around sharp hooks or knives, fish with sharp teeth, or stray gear on board that could cause a trip or stumble.

Expectations.  Probably not a good idea to take the tots out to deep water in hopes of landing a nice tuna or marlin. But even in the calmer, more protected waters of the Bay, you’ll find a good variety of fish. And they come in sizes that young fisherpeople can handle.

Gear.  Give the kids a fighting chance: shorter rods (four to five feet) and reels with good drags that will prevent a fish going on a wild run are in order for the kids’ first attempts.

Live bait over lures.  The fish that are biting will tell you what to use, but generally speaking, more fish species respond to live minnows or a hunk of squid. Once the kids get more experience, you can begin working in artificial lures.

Educate.  There are ample opportunities to teach the kids something new when you take them out fishing. Show them how the boat works, including the live wells and fish boxes. Point out the diving sea birds that show where schools may be swimming. Demonstrate the catch-and-release process and explain why that helps build and sustain species. Weather. Seamanship. Listen to the radio calls to and from the Coast Guard and explain what’s going on. In many ways, it’s not just a fishing trip but a seminar on life at sea. 

Patience. Always remember…kids are as different as snowflakes. Some will take to fishing and boating like a duck to water…others will want to get back ashore as soon as possible. You never can tell! The ones who don’t like it this year may end up loving it next year.  Fishing, like parenting, requires a lot of patience.

If you have any questions, give us a call. Everyone here at Lynnhaven Marine has either taken our kids out fishing, or remember what it was like when we were kids. We never run short of advice!