Memories with Dad — searching for the perfect fishing hole, getting your very first fishing pole and your first big catch. As kids, we remember these moments forever, and it’s the little things that stick with us. It’s not about the big boat; or stopping at nothing to bring home a bucket of fish; or spending time buying all of that high-quality fishing equipment. Favorite memories come from laughter, simple surprises and just being together. So before you head out on your first fishing trip this summer, remember: keep it simple!
Legendary Tennessee fisherman Bill Dance, who was taught to fish by his grandfather, loves teaching kids to fish. He recommends keeping things fun and light in addition to bank fishing so kids can easily get their bearings.
“Small waters are a great place for kids to get hooked on fishing,” says Dance. “Make sure you let them use tackle that fits them — not you — and to the size of fish they will catch,” he adds. “They will have a ball catching [them] with a worm under a bobber,” Dance says.
Of course, once you get a kid hooked on fishing with Dad, get ready for the asks.
“Once you have taught them to catch fish, let the kids take you fishing and you are there because you are tagging along with them,” Dance says. “If fishing’s slow, show them how to catch a crawfish or skip a rock or let them pick a wildflower to take home to mom. Just remember, it’s all about making memories,” he says.
The kids will remember your time together. Their memories of the nifty fishing equipment and any extra-long boating excursions may not high on their memory-bank favorites, though. Remember: fun, easy, relaxing and repeat.
Fishing With Kids
Do’s and Don’ts
DO plan for a shorter day
Simplicity is key and you don’t want to drag out the day. Set aside enough time for fun, but don’t expect it to go as planned.
DO pay attention to weather
Is it cool and windy? Chance of rain? This will make a huge difference, especially if you plan on casting your line from a boat. If it rains, don’t grab the umbrellas and head out anyway. There will be more sunny days.
DO go to “small” water, especially if your kids are little, according to Dance. Small ponds make it easier to catch a fish. As kids grow older, you can start experimenting with larger lakes and heading out on boats.
DO choose live bait. This is the easiest way to catch a fish if you’re a beginner. If it’s your child’s first time fishing, use live bait such as mealworms or wax worms — everything that swims will eat it.
DON’T carry too much. Keep your equipment light. The last thing you want is to lug along loads of heavy equipment and use your time together getting it all setup. Your fishing rod, your kids new fishing pole, bait, snacks, sunscreen, water, hand sanitizer and towels. Done.
DON’T target a specific fish. This can be way too complicated, especially with younger kids. Whatever they catch, whether it be a giant catfish or little tiny bluegill, make a big deal of it!
DON’T stay in one spot. Move around and let your kids have a say on where they want to go next. If they are young and you’re not getting a bite for the first 5 or 10 minutes, move on!
DON’T take anything for granted
Be mindful of where you choose your fishing spot, watch the kids closely, and never let your kids bait a hook or handle fishing equipment by themselves unless they already know how. Guide them through it and assist them with their first cast.
Choosing a Fishing Spot
Bank fishing is the perfect way to teach a kid to fish. Make a morning or afternoon of it, pack a lunch and light tackle, and enjoy.
• Marrowbone Lake
6200 Marrowbone Lake Road
Joelton, TN 37080
Baits available, there’s a fishing pier, picnic area and restrooms.
• Metro Parks Davidson County
Fishing is available in Cedar Hill Pond (860 Old Hickory Blvd., Madison) / Lake Watauga (West End Ave., and 25th Ave. North, Nashville) / Lake Sevier, Shelby Ave., & S. 20th St., Nashville) / and Willow Pond (Percy Warner Park, Hwy. 100). Fishing permits required.
• PERCY PRIEST LAKE
• BLACK FOX LAKE
Rutherford Blvd., Murfreesboro
• Bryants Grove
Long Hunter State Park
• Sharp Springs Natural Area
Off Jefferson Pike, Smyrna• Stewart’s Creek Rec. Area
Weakley Road, Smyrna
• Stones River Front Greenway
• PERCY PRIEST LAKE
• BLEDSOE CREEK
Off Hwy. 25 on Ziegler Road, Gallatin
• GALLATIN PAY LAKE
1035 N. Water Ave., Gallatin
• OLD HICKORY LAKE
• TWIN LAKES
1904 Dobbins Pike, N. of Gallatin
• BOWIE Nature Park
Hwy. 100 on Bowie Lake Road
• HARPETH RIVER
Judge Fulton Greer Park / Lewisburg Pike at Old Dam site in Franklin / Pinkerton Park, Franklin / Bridge on Hwy. 96, west of Franklin at Old Charlotte
• Veterans Memorial Park
Hwy. 96, west of Fairview