We asked nine fishing pros that question. After all, many of them have children and families of their own, plus they have a lot invested in the sport they love. Every one of them cares deeply about passing the sport on to future generations.
To keep kids fishing, the pros recommend that you:
Get bites and catch lots of small fish; don’t chase the lunkers.
– Woo Daves (Bassmaster Classic Winner, with 30 top-10 finishes overall)
2. “Make sure they catch a fish. That gets them excited.”
– Robert Robbins (National Team Pro, Table Rock Lake, Mo.)
3. “Don’t take them bass fishing. Take them panfishing so they can catch a lot of fish. You show them how to catch, and they’ll get serious real quick.”
– Wally Marshall, aka Mr. Crappie (National Crappie Champion)
Remember that patience is the key.
– Shelley Perry (fishes the Eastern BASS?Opens with three Top-50 finishes)
Fish from the dock, not the boat.
– Kevin VanDam (First Elite 50 Champion, former Classic Champion and three-time BASS Angler of the Year)
Focus on the experience; don’t make fishing the priority.
– Rick Clunn (four-time Classic winner and 28 straight Classic appearances)
7. “A kid’s attention span is only so long. If he’s lost interest, don’t stay there and push it; come back another day.”
– Woo Daves
Change fishing holes.
– Charlie Campbell (longtime bass pro and inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame)
9. “Take them where there are a lot of fish. Then, leave when the fish are biting. That will make them want to come back.”
– Penny Berryman (former Womens World Champion and annual qualifier for the WBFA Classic)
Let the kids do something else.
– Ron James (co-host of FISH?TV on Outdoor Life Network, and FISH?TV?U.S. on The Outdoor Channel)
11. “After 15 minutes, if they want to throw rocks or catch frogs, let them! Remember that kids have a short attention span. When they want to be done – quit! Eventually, they’ll want to spend more time fishing.”
– Kevin VanDam
12. “Bring toys, books, video games. Remember, if they don’t have an enjoyable experience they won’t go back.”
– Shelley Perry
13. “That reminds me of a family I took out recently. The boy, a 15-year-old, was getting bored. I said, “Ya wanna race?” So he jumped in and raced me with the trolling motor. He was a darn good swimmer, too. Oh, and the kid won.”
– Charlie Campbell
Every year, National Fishing and Boating Week promotes fishing with kids. Check out www.nationalfishingandboatingweek.org for information on attending an event or how to plan one in your community.