Family Fun by Laura Churchill Duke: Get kids hooked on fishing

Published on June 16, 2014

Where can you gain an appreciation for nature, spend quality time as a family, learn a fun hobby and make wonderful memories? While fishing, of course!

Fishing is one of those quintessential Maritime activities everyone should try at least once. It’s also a great activity to do with your kids.

“Both Shawn and I love fishing and fished together for years before we had our children,” says Gillian Williams of Coldbrook. “We could not wait to take the boys with us to share the fun and teach them what we have learned fishing over the years.”

Fishing with children can be really enjoyable.

“We love to get the kids outdoors,” says Jennifer Lonergan of South Alton. “We also love teaching our kids where their food comes from.”

Fishing guide Perry Munro of Mountain Maple in Black River agrees.  He says children should learn to be connected to the outdoors and be a part of the link that connects us to the reality of where food comes from.

“Pull a string here and something jerks over there and it may be a fish,” he says.

There is no perfect age to start fishing with your child. Williams started taking her children fishing when they were two years old. Munro says setting an age doesn't work as some kids have more desire and ability than adults.

“Parents will be the best judge of when a kid is ready,” he says. 

To fish, children need a rod. Any basic one will do.

“We started the boys with a small rod and a spin-cast reel (a closed-face reel with a thumb button to press) that was easy to learn to cast with,” says Williams.

Lonergan bought her daughter children's fishing equipment when she was small, but found real gear works better.

“So now, we just let our children use our gear,” she says.

When teaching your children to fish, Williams suggests starting on shore to make sure they have a lot of space and one-on-one attention until they get the hang of casting their rods. Once the children get the hang of casting their rods and feel more confident, then try fishing from a canoe.

Munro cautions not to take children out for long sessions. Patience is required.

“Sometimes fishing is like watching paint dry for a kid and they have the attention span of a chicken!”

Williams says sometimes when the fishing is slow, they end up packing it in a lot sooner than they might have planned.

“Discourage competition for the biggest, first, most, etc. fish,” says Munro, “as all competitions have a winner and loser.”  

There are many great places to try fishing.

“We go fishing anywhere we can get quickly and easily with the kids,” says Williams. This mostly includes freshwater lakes like Aylesford lake, Silver Lake (which is stocked) or Gaspereau Lake. 

For a few weeks in May, you can catch when the smelt are running. These are edible sea-run small fish, five- to eight-inches long, that need to be jigged to be caught. According to fishing guru Ken Eastman of Kentville, you’ll need a fishing rod and reel, treble hooks (the larger the better) and a weight at the end of the line.

“Find a good spot, preferably where there is a pool where fish might sit before swimming further up. Exploring for these is half the fun,” says Eastman. “Cast out, let the weight drop close to the bottom and do sharp jerking actions on the retrieve, trying to hook the fish while you are pulling the treble hooks through the water.” 

Still confused and unsure where to start? Consider joining Munro on one of his fishing tours that run from May to October. July and August are the best times to take children as the weather is warmer and there is more action.

Be sure to check with Service Nova Scotia about fishing licence rules and regulations before heading out.

“It is really fun to see how proud the children are when they make a nice cast or especially when they catch more fish or a bigger fish than their parents,” says Williams. For them, it’s all about the holding and the catching of the fish!

Laura Churchill Duke’s ( husband and father took their boys fishing. They are proud to tell everyone that Daddy caught a boot in the lake that day!