First time fishing for kids? Make it safe and fun

8:47 am April 8th, 2013

By Bob Brown
With the opening of the general fishing season April 27, many youngsters will be experiencing fishing for the first time and the excitement that goes along with the sport. For parents not familiar with fishing gear there is usually the quandary of what type equipment is needed for the venture and price. Stan Jones, editor and publisher probably answered both questions best in his book Washington State Fishing Guide. Jones said “Forget fancy equipment. You can buy a small, open-face spinning reel loaded with a six pound test monofilament line, plus a six or seven foot, light spinning rod for under $30.
For the $30 you’ll probably be able to include a dozen snelled number 8 hooks (with leaders tied to them), a dozed small snap swivels, some split sinkers, and four or five small, round bobbers. You may want to buy a jar of salmon eggs, but common garden worms are as good or better bait.”
Jones also suggests prior to making the trip, string the fishing line through the rods guides and ties a small weight to the end of the line. Then go outside and let the youngster try casting. Spinning reels are simple and most six-year olds can learn to cast reasonably well in 15 minutes. It is a matter of preference where to go fishing and what species of fish to target. We are fortunate to have a number of Resorts and freshwater lakes close at hand that contain spiny ray fish and trout. Perch, crappie, sunfish and catfish are not difficult to catch and usually put up a pretty good fight when hooked. Trout can be a little more challenging to catch, but worth the effort. They too put up a good fight.
Fishing from a boat is great fun, but little people have a habit of getting wiggly especially if there are long periods between bites, therefore, fishing from a bank or boat dock may be more preferable. Also, if there is no bobber action within 10 to 15 minutes move to another spot. 0nce fish start attacking the bait; try to keep your youngster from setting the hook until the bobber goes completely under the water.
Besides keeping safety first, it is also imperative to establish some rules before leaving on the trip. Hooked on Fishing International (HOFI) producers of the Wal-Mart All American Fishing Derby have a Safety-Comes-First checklist it developed as a guide for adult volunteers who supervise children in fishing events. Some of those rules are:
• No running; Keep your shoes on, and look around before casting.
• Set up a buddy system. Young anglers need an adult “bubby” and constant supervision.
• Make sure each angler, swimmers and non-swimmers wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times- on a dock, boat, or on the shore.
• Bringing a small first aid kit to deal with all manner of cuts and scraps, insect bites and other minor injuries is recommended.
• Because ultraviolet light of the sun can do a lot of damage to skin, eyes and lips, it is a good idea to outfit young anglers with clothing appropriate to the climate and sun conditions. Also, avoid fishing during the middle of the day.
• Bring along lots of cold water and other healthy drinks to prevent young anglers from dehydration due to warm summer temperatures.
Checklists are great, but all the checklists in the world cannot anticipate all safety problems you or your young angler might encounter on a fishing trip, so it is best to think safety at all times. Look for trouble before it finds you and if it does find you; know how to deal with it.

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