As the work week comes to a close, many parents start worrying how to keep their kids busy and away from their phones, laptops and game consoles. Of course, Ohio offers some of the best outdoor recreational opportunities in the world, and fishing is a great choice for you and your children.
Most kids enjoy learning to fish, even if they aren’t typically enthusiastic about the outdoors. But, if you want them to have a fantastic time and be willing to go again in the future, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure you actually catch fish – no one likes to stare at a float bobbing up and down all afternoon.
We’ll provide you with five tips and tricks below, which should improve your chances of catching fish and seeing your children smile.
Start your kids off with the right equipment to boost their confidence
Many kids become frustrated while learning how to cast and reel. This can sour their attitude and prevent them from wanting to try fishing again in the future. So, avoid the temptation to hand them one of your old rods and set them up with their own 5- to 6-foot-long spinning or spincasting combo, which will be well-suited to their size and skill level.
Target easy-to-catch species and ignore the exciting gamefish advanced anglers pursue
Bass, walleye and pike may draw anglers from all over the country to Ohio’s waters, but these aren’t the ideal targets for your kids (or beginners in general). These species are all very tricky to catch, and your youngsters are unlike to catch very many of them. Instead, target catfish and panfish (including bluegill and their relatives), which typically bite baited hooks readily and are found in larger numbers than the bass and other celebrated gamefish advanced anglers pursue.
Use real or live baits and leave the artificial lures in the tackle box
Artificial lures, as the saying goes, may or may not catch fish, but they certainly catch anglers shopping at the local sporting goods store. In truth, many artificial lures are remarkably productive in the skilled hands of a seasoned angler, but your kids are unlikely to be able to control them effectively. Rather than catching fish, your kids will spend most of the day snagging underwater hazards.
Choose a good location, with plenty of room for your youngsters to learn how to cast
Kids will frequently struggle to learn how to cast accurately, so you want to pick a location with plenty of room while they’re learning. A low-traffic shoreline or pier is perfect, but they can also learn from a boat. Fortunately, Ohio has plenty of great fishing spots from which you can choose.
If you live in the northern reaches of the state, visit Mosquito Lake. Full of catfish and bluegill (as well as many other species,), this 12-square-mile lake provides plenty of shoreline access, so you can fish from the bank. Also, it is a good idea to register to some of this year’s northeast Ohio fishing derbies.
Those in the Cincinnati area (southwestern Ohio) will want to check out Caesar Creek State Park Lake — a 2,600-acre body of water with over 40 miles of shoreline, including several stretches of bank that are perfect for fishing. If you live near Columbus, consider Buck Creek State Park, which is home to a 2,120-acre lake and hosts free fishing days a few times a year.
Fish with your kids to increase the odds of catching fish
The single best way to get your kids hooked on fishing is to give them the chance to reel in their own fish. So, be sure to keep your own baited hook in the water. You are more likely to detect nibbles and set the hook properly, so you can do these things for your kids, before passing the rod off so that one of them can battle the monster to shore. Just be sure to rotate between your children to keep things fair.
You’ll never be guaranteed of catching fish on a given day, but if you employ the tactics and strategies described above, you can improve your chances drastically. Just be sure to maintain a positive attitude, commiserate with your kids when the fishing is tough, and celebrate when they reel in a monster (don’t forget to take photos).
If you’d like to learn about a few more strategies for improving your odds of catching fish with your kids, cruise on over to Outdoor Empire and check out their comprehensive coverage of the topic.