Are you a diehard angler looking to get your family into fishing as much as you are? Well, plan carefully to maximize enjoyment.
Follow these 10 steps to ensure it's a great introduction:
Carefully plan your chosen location based on all of your previous fishing experiences. You want a fishing spot that is as productive as can be, and will ideally bring at least a couple of fish in the boat.
The fish don't have to be trophies, but you want some action to keep your family's interests up, especially if you're dealing with kids.
Pick your day carefully, ensuring it will be as nice as possible. The last thing you want to do with new anglers is introduce them to the sport in lousy weather conditions.
Too hot, too cold, or inclement weather can easily produce a negative experience for the first time out.
Well, not everyone is a diehard angler like you. You and your fishing buddies may have no problem getting up in the wee morning hours, but this is likely not a good tactic for an introductory outing.
Try to pick a spot that is productive later in the day and shoot for a mid-morning boat launch, or for a few hours of bank-fishing.
Have all the gear your family will use prepped and ready. Avoid more complicated reels and go with the basics.
Have a variety of bait types on hand, and be prepared to rig them for each member while using it as an educational opportunity.
If you prep lunch the day before and serve it up the day of, you've taken a big step to make it one enjoyable trip. Hangry (hungry-angry) anglers are anglers that won't have fun.
Even better, be ready to do a shore lunch, but have a backup just in case.
6. Keep it simple
Don't get too intricate with complex fishing techniques, keep it simple.
When I introduced my kids to freshwater fishing, I started with simple trolling techniques and progressed later on to casting.
7. Bring the enthusiasm
When one of the family catches a fish, make it a big deal! Make them proud of that first (or first couple of fish) that is brought in.
I was lucky enough (or my daughter was) while trolling to catch a 20-inch bass. We made it a huge celebration, which it was. I even had it mounted with her nameplate on it, and it's now displayed proudly in our family cabin.
8. Know when to stop
Again, this goes back to the diehard bit. You may be able to spend 12 hours on the water, but this may not be a good idea as an introduction.
Stick to a timeline. Three hours was the maximum limit for my kids when they were younger.
9. Let them choose
This one may sound weird, but when my daughter and boy were younger, around five or six, I would always present them with a few choices of lures (ones I knew that worked for that location and conditions) and let them choose.
This empowerment really helped to get them excited, involved in the process, and was a great educational tool at the same time.
10. Be selfless
Here it is, the most important tip of all.
I highly recommend that, for the first trip out, you do not fish. Yes, you are a seasoned angler, but now you are the fishing instructor, chef, safety coordinator, and tour guide.
Trust me, it's hard for me to resist dropping a line when the fish are biting, but the whole point is making it enjoyable for the family. I took care of tackle, ran the motor, helped with the net, and just really took care of business.
This will go a long way to making it an enjoyable outing. Besides, you can always wake up your fishing buddies at the crack of dawn to head out for your own fishing adventure.
Follow these steps and you are almost certain to have a great introductory fishing experience the whole family can enjoy.