Fishing with Kids: Part 2
  |  First Published: December 2009

Last month we talked through ideas on how to get the kids ready to go fishing.

Planning the event is one of the most exciting parts of fishing and teaches kids life skills like patience, while ensuring they have an active role in all aspects of the organisation process.

This month I would like to visit an area of fishing that is often more exciting than fishing itself: gathering your own bait. There are numerous different places to look for bait from the beach to the garden. Whether you are trying to catch a few worms; shuffling for pipies; jigging a bait rig for squid and livies; collecting weed off the rocks; netting herring, hardiheads or prawns; or pumping for yabbies the kids are guaranteed to think it’s an adventure.

Much of the same preparation techniques outlined in last month’s article are required for a day of bait gathering. This includes setting a date, discussing your target species, getting the equipment ready and demonstrating how it all works.

Collecting bait can be done either the day before you go fishing or earlier on the same day as your fishing trip.

If we wanted to target bream and whiting on our fishing trip then a few yabbies may be the way to go. For this all you really need is a floating sieve, a yabby pump and a bucket.

Pumping yabbies is a messy affair so the kids will absolutely love this. Normally yabby grounds are not too deep so you may well be able to put the kids right on the spot after a little wading through the water.

I have found sharing the duties is a positive experience so give everyone a go at all the aspects. You can also purchase a smaller size yabby pump that is suitable for smaller kids. Just like in sport we need to match the size of equipment to the size of the user.

Cast or drag netting is also a terrific way to get live bait and kids relish the anticipation of what has been caught with every cast. You will need to check your state laws as to whether these are legal or not.

Getting the bait out of the net is a really fun job and the kids can be taught to identify different species while they toss them into the bucket. Some kids just love to count so they should be encouraged to keep you up to date on how many you have.

If you incorporate a swim session after you have the bait the kids will enjoy the experience even more and will look forward to more and more outings with mum and dad. And best of all, this gives parents the best excuse to keep fishing.

Jigging for bait from the boat, rocks, riverbank or jetty can also be a great way to have your kids brush up on their casting and retrieve techniques. There are days we go out fishing and as luck would have it catching the bait can be the best part of the day. A full string of slimies or yakkas takes a bit of work to get in on light line so imagine how it feels to the kids.

Catch squid is another great activity to involve the family in and with the price of squid at the shops at the moment fresh squid is worth the effort to bag up and put into your freezer.

If you have never experienced it then you must try the pipi shuffle. To do the pipi shuffle go on the soft, wet sand and shuffle your feet left to right, burying them in the sand. Then you wait until you feel a pipi rubbing against your foot and grab it! Kids just love this and it can be a fun competition to see who gets the most pipis.

If you are good at catching beach worms then the kids are great at waving the berley bag around to bring them up. They also relish in telling you that you are missing too many. This is a difficult and frustrating skill to teach but with it comes getting wet and playing at the beach so nobody looses.

An important point to remember with all this is if you are going to take your kids fishing my experience has taught me not to expect to fish myself. Normally you are kept very busy putting on bait or fixing tangles and taking off fish there is really no time for you to concentrate on your own. Once the kids are old enough you can get some casts in, but give all of your attention to them until they can do it for themselves.

Remember fishing is not all about casting in a line and waiting for a bite it’s the whole big picture and every aspect is as much fun as the other. This year try involving your kids a lot more in bait gathering as the experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

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