It’s a constant parental dilemma to reconcile emotions with the sensibility of one simple truth: memories are made, not purchased. I’m not trying to get preachy here, but with Father’s Day approaching, it’s worth a moment to note a few key points to maximizing the angling experience with the ones you love.
1. Keep it simple
The fact that you can skip a jig 30 feet under a dock or cast that popper between two cypress trees means absolutely nothing if your kid can barely manage the bail on a spinning reel. Make sure the activity fits the skill level and you’ll avoid the frustration and boredom that dooms the ill-planned excursion.
True, bobber watching may not thrill a seasoned fisherman, but when that float submerges and you help an eager angler reel in that bluegill? That’s hero time for Dad.
Don’t miss these opportunities.
2. Let them catch the fish
This one’s as straightforward as it gets. Helping, assisting, supporting—yeah, do all that. But weigh the value of just another catch for you versus a year’s worth of bragging rights and a lifetime of cemented angling interest for your child.
3. Consider a charter trip
A guided fishing trip, when economically feasible, eliminates any concerns over inadequate gear and/or experience. And here’s the thing: experienced guides totally get the family thing and most are pretty good at making dad look like the champ.
Just be clear on what you want to and make sure everyone can handle some ocean motion if you go offshore. If it’s your first time out, consider staying close with a coastal/inshore trip. Forgoing a hog hunt in favor of constant activity and a few high-five moments is definitely the right call.
For example, in Tampa Bay Capt. Billy Miller has perfected what he calls “Family Fun Fishing.” Focusing on constant activity that keeps everyone engaged, Miller targets deeper grass flats, channel edges, and other places where he can chum up a feeding frenzy and keep his anglers busy with speckled trout, mackerel, bluefish mangrove snapper, and small sharks.
4. Go at their speed
One statement will crystallize a thought that I’m sure you can apply as needed. Ready? Here it is: Playing with the bait (minnows, worms, crickets, shrimp), watching for otters and herons and reaching into a well-stocked snack box might be more interesting to a young angler than holding a fishing rod.
That’ll vary by child, but the key is to make fishing available–not mandatory. Quality time trumps productivity here.
Bottom line? If you don’t catch a single fish, but your child brags to their friends about a “cool fishing trip” with their dad, well … that’s the dream, right?
Lump in your throat? Don’t worry–me too.