Kayak Fishing With Kids – A Dad’s Perspective

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Kayak Fishing with kids, a dads perspective…

Are you keen to take your kids out fishing with you?

As a father of three I’d like to share with you some of the things I have learnt about kayak fishing with kids to help you make the most of your time together on the water.

About me. 

I am the father of three boys and we love spending time together. They all come out ‘fishing’ with me at times but as they have three very different personalities and abilities I have had to learn to tailor each kayak fishing trip to suit each child.

For me, and I’m guessing it’s probably the same for most of you reading this, the reason for taking your child out with you is to spend some quality time together and build your relationship in as much as it is about fishing.
With that in mind I have listed below some of the things that I have learnt along the way that I personally find helpful in getting the most out of our time together.

Have the right expectations mentally.

When I take the kids out kayak fishing it’s about having quality time together and building our relationship. It’s about sharing their excitement when they are catching fish and being there for them when they don’t. All good life lessons.

With that in mind, think about what you want out of your trip. As each child is different this may vary from child to child. Having the right expectations is crucial to enjoying your time together, whereas having the wrong expectations most often leads to disappointment.

I have learnt that it is best if I base my expectation around the individual child and making the day about spending time with them. That way I am better prepared mentally to avoid disappointment. 

I will elaborate on my expectations with each of my boys in the next point which will shed more light on this.

Tailor your fishing trip to suit your child.

To better explain this concept and  give you some practical examples I would like to share how I plan my kayak fishing experiences with each of my children.

My oldest child.

Of my three boys, my oldest is a keen fisherman, he always has been and likely always will. Wherever we go he will inevitably be fishing of some kind whether it be with a rod and reel or scooping fish out of rock pools with a net or trying to catch them with his hands. Anywhere there is water he will be searching for a catch.

He is my main companion on my kayak fishing trips and makes an excellent partner. He is a very competent angler and is content on the kayak with me. We have fished offshore and on the lake and he is happiest when he is fishing. Something he is content to do for hours.  As such, when I take him out I know I’m going out for a fish so my expectation of the trip is much the same as if I am going out on my own. 

As we share the same passion it makes for easy bonding time. 

My middle child.

My middle son is extremely practical and creative. He is always on the go and loves exploring. He enjoys fishing but much less than my oldest. He will fish for a while but will get bored with it long before I do, so in order to capitalise on our day out I try to incorporate some ‘on land’ exploring which he loves, maybe take a picnic or head to the other shore of the lake. 

I learnt my lesson pretty early on, if I take him out with the expectation of going for a decent fishing session then I will be disappointed which is not conducive to building our relationship. When I go out with him I know that I’m not going on a serious fishing expedition so my focus is set on having quality time with him. By incorporating extra things that he loves and tailoring the trip duration to suit his capacity I am able to have a great day out with my son and build some memories to last a lifetime, both mine and his.

On a side note, though it is improving, he somehow manages to tangle his line frequently so I have also learnt to build this into my expectation so that I don’t get frustrated when/if it happens.

My youngest child.

Being the youngest and having two older brothers to play and compete with he is most happy when he is with them and does what he sees his brothers doing. He is only five years old and therefore our trips are short and close to the shore. We will see whether his interest in fishing grows as time goes by but at the moment he loves going for a paddle and we love spending time together which is what it’s really all about.

Nobody knows your child like you do, so armed with that knowledge, I would encourage you to think about how you can get the most out of your time together, consider your child’s likes, dislikes, abilities and limitations and take those into account when you plan your time together.

Have the right expectations Physically.

Definitely something to consider here is both your capability and theirs.

Up until now I have always taken my boys out on the back of my kayak. I have a Viking Profish 400 which has a decently sized rear tankwell which they sit on quite happily. 

My oldest is now getting way too big to lug around so the boys Christmas present this year was a smaller, child sized kayak that will see them right for a few years. 

This will now be a factor in our trip planning. If one of the older boys takes this out I will have to consider their paddling ability and endurance and be more cautious when considering the weather, particularly the wind and waves. 

I will likely take a tow rope along as well, just in case. 

My aim is to provide a learning curve in which they can grow in confidence and ability whilst having fun and staying safe.

Safety.

PFD (Personal Floatation Device) or Life Vest.

First and foremost, wear a properly fitted life vest or PFD (Personal Flotation Device). 

Make sure the buoyancy rating is correct for your and your child’s weight and make sure it is a good fit. It’s a great idea in summer to get your child used to floating in their PFD (life vest) so that they are comfortable with it on and can have the confidence that it will support them effectively if they ever have to put it to the test.

Weather. 

As I mentioned previously, weather is a factor when planning a trip with the kids.

I kayak fish within my capabilities and will fish in rougher weather when I’m on my own than when I go out with one of my boys and even then it will vary from child to child. I am mindful to work within their capabilities

Clothing.

This is fairly obvious but make sure you are appropriately dressed

I would highly recommend starting out with your children in warm weather and in water warm enough to swim in comfortably. Make sure you are dressed to survive a dunking, that includes getting back to shore safely whilst wet. With all things, especially concerning our children, I feel it is better to err on the side of caution.

Food and Hydration.  

Keep those energy levels high by taking along plenty of snacks and make sure you avoid dehydration by having enough water to hand. Remember, more water will be required in hot weather so pack accordingly.

More Tips.

Understand your child’s fears or limitations.

If your child does not feel comfortable then they are not going to enjoy themselves. This may mean staying closer to shore or keeping the trip duration to a minimum. Perhaps only going out when the lake is mirror calm.

Like myself, each of my boys’ confidence has grown with time and experience but I had to start slow and build from there.

Leave your own fishing gear behind…. “Argh… did I hear you right?”


Yes, there have been times when I have left my fishing gear behind. 

Another of life’s learning curves, yay! 

After having some frustrating experiences when I really wanted to fish but instead ended up barely wetting my line due to the interruptions, tangles or complaints from my child I decided one day to let him take his rod along but I left mine behind. It worked great! I had, out of necessity, adjusted my expectations and was able to help him when he needed. 

It felt like taking a step backwards at the time but it actually had a positive impact. I learnt to have the right expectation therefore eliminating the frustration I had previously felt which lead to a much more enjoyable time together. Jointly, with my full attention he was able to grow in his confidence and ability to the point where I am now able to take my fishing gear along and fish again. Result!

Make it about them.

You are building memories that will last them a lifetime. They grow up so quickly so make it count.

Don’t neglect your ‘alone’ fishing time!

If you are anything like me you will still need some ‘alone’ fishing time. With the busyness of life these days it can be easily overlooked but it is important for our own sanity. 

Teach them to respect the environment.

There is immense pressure on our natural resources today so teaching them to be good stewards of what we have will hopefully ensure that they will be able to have the same positive experiences with their children one day.

Kayak fishing with kids recap…

Be safe, make it about them, have fun, build those memories and catch those fish!

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