Ice fishing with kids

One of the biggest hurdles with introducing kids to fishing is someone actually taking them out and teaching them about the sport. Unfortunately, if nobody takes them, kids simply won’t go fishing. The equipment is expensive, there is a lot to know and it can be overwhelming to try and figure things out on your own.

When we do take kids or anybody else who is inexperienced at fishing, out on the water, there is an expectation that we show them how to do it the right way. To mind the safety aspects of boating, gyoung fisherkiding on the ice, how to clean a fish and avoid injury from hooks. The conservation aspect of the sport is important – teaching newcomers that it’s okay to keep a few fish to eat but to not over-harvest. To not catch fish in water that is too deep to where they can’t be released or fish unethically.

Finally, catching fish is important too. Techniques and tactics, once learned, can last a lifetime.

The next most important aspect of taking kids fishing is having fun. If the weather is nasty – it’s cold, windy and otherwise no fun to be out there, try again on a nicer day. If kids associate fishing with rain and wind, they aren’t going to want to go again.

If you can get everybody on some fish, that’s a great way to make it a fun day. Everybody loves to reel in a fish, especially youngsters who haven’t experienced it before. Going fishing shouldn’t involve pressure, but if you have a few hours to get out in advance to find a location with biting fish, it might be a good idea.

If the fishing is tough, keep it fun in other ways. When I was a little kid, I used to love building a fire on shore when we went ice fishing and cooking hot dogs over it. I think it worked out okay because I have been competent at starting a fire since I was a little kid and I wanted to go fishing every time Dad was headed out the door. It was an adventure every time.

Briar Samsal with a nice perch on a recent outing. One of the many fish more than me that Briar caught this past Saturday.

Fishing is a great activity for all kids to enjoy. It gets them outside and away from a screen and they may fall in love with it, like myself and many of you reading this have. I have been a fishing guide for all of my adult life and have had plenty of trips with kids over the years. Keep them entertained and they’ll have fun.

Bring plenty of food and drinks, so nobody is hungry. If the bite isn’t good, consider keeping the trip short. Maybe the day turns into a ride down the ice road or on a snowmobile. Head to shore and build a fire.

Electronics can help immensely for finding fish and triggering them to strike. Kids today will pick up on and understand your electronics much quicker than you think so if they show some interest, teach them how to use these machines. If you enjoy fishing in a shelter, consider an Aqua-Vu underwater camera. I carry one on my boat and have pulled it out for kids to use many times, it’ll buy you a couple hours more of fishing by keeping them busy. In a shelter, you can watch your baits as you fish and see fish interact with your baits.

Take kids fishing, teach them how to stay safe, catch a few fish and they’ll thank you later.