Fishing with kids is a great family outdoors activity. To make the experience fun, safe and pressure free, consider these 10 steps.

1. Scout for Locations

Fishing means catching fish. Whether you plan to fish from a boat, shore or a dock, scout out locations where fish are plentiful.

The local tackle shop is a great place to get some help. If possible, bring the kids along when you visit the store. Have them observe while you ask for pointers on where to go, productive baits for the area, and information on fishing regulations and fishing licenses.

2. Get Ready

Organizing gear in advance minimizes stress. Check as you pack: fishing gear, snacks, drinks, water, sunscreen, bug repellant, rain jackets, hats, first-aid kit, sunglasses.

3. Fish Safe

Safety must come first. Life jackets, while sometimes uncomfortable, are a must for kids around water. Hooks have barbs so should only be handled by adults. If you prefer, barbs can be pinched down. Shakespeare's Hide-A-Hook Float is a great device that hides the hook within the bobber for safer casting.

4. Talk Tactics

Boys and girls alike are naturally curious, so explain how a float works and moves when a fish bites. If casting jigs, tug on the line while the child holds the rod to simulate a hit. Demonstrate setting the hook, emphasizing that like any skill, in takes time to learn.

5. Get a Grip

Teach kids how to grip the handle of the rod keeping it in front of them in a 9 to 11 o'clock position. Explain how the reel handle turns and how to react to a bite.

6. Cast Away

A sidearm cast, not an overhead, is better and safer for kids. Here's an overview:

  • Shoulder-check no one's in harm's way
  • Bring the rod back keeping it above the waist
  • Swing the rod forward while flicking the wrist and releasing the line prior to the rod pointing at the target
  • End with rod pointing at target
  • Offer lots of encouragement for young casters

7. Gear for Success

Success can result from the simplicity of a bait and bobber on a lightweight rod. Buy a quality spinning or spin-cast combo between 3'6" to 5' and spool the reel with 6-pound monofilament line.

8. Use Artificial Baits

Worm and minnow soft-baits are durable and won't spoil. Rig baits on a 1/32- to 1/8-ounce jig. Marabou or tinsel crappie jigs also work well.

A jig dangled beneath a small float and occasionally twitched is an effective tactic for youngsters. For kids who want to become more engaged, teach them a slow reeling or hopping jig retrieve.

9. Play and Land

Learning to fish takes patience. Coach kids how to slowly and steadily play fish, stopping when the fish is at the water's surface. Encourage kids to independently land a fish quickly or to ask for help. Once the catch is out of the water and admired with photos secured, demonstrate proper release methods. If it's fish for dinner, explain selective harvesting.

10. Have Fun

Fishing should be always be fun. Keep this objective in mind and regardless of the number of fish caught, each outing will be a success.

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