Knowing how to keep your young angler safe when they begin fishing is vital and will ensure all of you enjoy the fishing expedition. Below are some tips and guidelines on how to stay safe whilst fishing with kids:
Establish rules before you start. You’re going to need your children to fully understand what is appropriate and what is not prior to starting to fish. Its also a good idea to start early with younger children and set a cut off time before boredom or tiredness sets in.
Patience. Patience. Patience. Its always best to plan to go when your patience is high, your alert and ready to handle accidents of any nature if they occur.
Supervision is always recommended when a child is fishing. It will depend on the age of the child as to how much supervision they will need.
Always check weather conditions prior to heading out. If bad weather is predicted, on the day, it’s best to stay safe and stay at home. High wind or tide conditions could make it highly dangerous with young anglers.
Even in good weather Children should always wear a Life jacket (PFD), in all situations whether it’s on a boat, shore or wharf.
Check with local government and / or fisheries groups in your area. Ensure you know off limit zones and unsafe species to handle to best avoid harm. The rules are there to protect you.
Plan to fish in safe zones and away from potiential hazards and other anglers.
Ensure adequate food and especially water is on hand for you and your young angler, staying sun safe and hydrated is vital for a young angler.
Appropriate clothing for weather conditions should be provided this can include; hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and wind/waterproof outer layer, polarized sunglasses and appropriate footwear.
Demonstrate how to safely handle and use the fishing gear prior to starting. This includes where and how to cast so as to avoid contact with anyone else. Watch their casting and ensure they are an adequate distance from other anglers and hazards such as power lines and electric fences.
Always put gear safely away back in tackle box when not in use to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Take their age into account. Ensure you do not expect too much of your young angler and be sure to be there to help if needed.
Consider teaching the side casting method first, young children can better keep track of their rod and hook from the side rather then overhead. Some young children may not be able to cast overhead at all or without injury. The downside to this may be less accurate landing area.
Right sized gear for your little one. Aim for smaller and lightweight fishing gear. Big gear is going to be too hard for your young angler to use. If very young, try starting with a kids starter kit which can include small rod, reel and practice casting plug. For around $9-$12, this step first can also help judge if your angler is ready for bigger gear, can help them master casting prior to bringing out real hooks, lures etc.
If you have a child 6 years and up. Choosing a rod soft and flexible rod no more then 5 foot in length , a reel that has a push button spin caster and small lures can all help your young angler start out and ensure optimal safety.
Barbless hooks at first, this can avoid injuries in the early days of teaching a child how to fish. Its a good idea to cut barbs off hooks if children are going to be using them.