Fishing for beginners - What age?
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What age do you think is right to begin to take youngsters fishing?
Every child is different but in general I reckon eight is about right.
Sort out a spinning rod or similar for the first trip or two — if (s)he takes to it -then- buy suitable tackle.
Children don't see the point in catching a fish just to put it back. So go somewhere where they can take something home to show off, then eat it. Gudgeon are easy to catch and good eating if fiddly, small sea fish from a pier may be a better bet. Once they have caught and eaten something you introduce the idea that not all fish are worth eating and so begin catch and release by stages.
Casting is always a problem so either fish straight down off a pier or somewhere a current will help like a small stream, even a bridge.
During the first trip or two you will not be able to fish yourself. By trip three you may be able to make a token effort.
It is important that the first trips stop before the child is bored or cold, as little as an hour with young ones. They must go home wanting more. I find a dusk trip is good as you have a natural forced ending with a memorable 'dark and creepy' finish.
I don't think a lake is a good starting venue, even an overstocked one; casting is too chancy. Rivers and streams have their own additional magic. It's possible to find places where tackle dropped in at your feet will be carried to the fish and even minnows are worthwhile fish on a first trip. (Minnows aren't too bad at a pinch if deep fried for about a minute — gutting is fiddly.)
My 9 year old nephew has been 5 times now. Twice with my tackle and since with the spinning rod he had for his birthday. He has caught and eaten smelt, pollock, garfish and trout and I insist he himself kills, guts and prepares at least some of the catch he keeps — under strict supervision — as I feel it is important he understands the consequences of his actions. On the other hand he has returned over half the fish he has caught, at first because they were 'not a nice sort to eat', later because 'that one is too small' and then because we already had enough.
His casting is still lousy (but he has started to practice target-casting in the garden.) He still gets impressive tangles and is none too happy handling bait that wriggles. He's keen though and last time out he took a pound and a quarter trout that jumped and fought, he kept the rod up and steered the fish out of trouble like a pro...
In twenty years time it'll be his turn to take me fishing.
Unless stated otherwise: Everything in this site refers to fishing in the British Isles and similar northern European waters.