My son was seven when he accompanied me in our first Bass Tournament together. It is definitely a different experience when you are fishing with a child. Now he has fished with me for a few years already at this point, but he is still limited in his abilities. So here are a few tips that I have learned along the way.
Make smart bait choices. In our first tournament I gave my son three rods with three different baits. The first was a Texas rigged worm with a small weight. Second was a Carolina rigged lizard. Last and my favorite was a wacky rigged senko. If you are fishing with a child or even just someone that is new to bass fishing, these are great baits to learn on. He didn’t have to do any special cadence or anything. Just cast out and reel in slowly or just let it sit and wait for a hit. I’m not saying spinnerbaits or any other baits are bad choices, but from the experiences we had, he got less snags and more bites with these three.
Now he was doing great with these baits and catching quite a few fish with me, but he was also losing a lot. I could tell it was because he just wasn’t setting the hook hard enough. I discussed this with a friend of mine that I would consider my fishing Yoda. He gave me a tip that made me feel pretty stupid for not thinking about it on my own. Change from mono line to braided line. Duh. That little change helped my son go from landing some of the fish that bit, to landing most of the fish that bit.
So those are some of the dos, but there obviously should be a couple don’ts. Now this depends on age, but for me, I would say the most important don’t, is don’t use baits with treble hooks. Now I have not had a hook thrown barb deep into my back yet, but I have seen it happen before with adults. I can only imagine how easy it would be for my son to hit me with a crankbait. Yes, I would consider my son an accomplished angler already, but he still forgets to open the bail every once in awhile. So he does not get to use baits with trebles very often. However, when they are biting a certain bait I do allow him to take the front of the boat so I can stand safely away from him and still let him get in on the action.
Lastly, and I would say most importantly, make sure they have fun. You want them to come out again and again and fall in love with the sport just like you have. Don’t bore them to death. Let them have as much fun as they can, and catch as many fish as they can. If they are having a hard time catching, let them reel in your fish or at least net the fish. Then when they are done having fun and getting bored, call it a day.
So nothing too in depth, but a few tips for you when you decide to take your child out to start bass fishing with you. Choose baits that are easy to retrieve with little chance of snagging. Use braid so they get better hook sets. Take breaks to drive around the lake or whatever it takes to make sure they have fun. When they start catching their own fish they will be hooked for life, and that is the real goal.