It’s got to be all about the kids when you take them kayak fishing for the first time. You will have to cater to their needs if you expect to cultivate a real love of the water and get a new fishing buddy. If your son or daughter can only last a couple of hours in the kayak before boredom sets in or their attention span wavers, then you’ll have to be ready to call it a day or change the venue. A short time on shore for a snack break or some playtime on dry land might be the solution. Don’t force the fishing experience on them. Plan on another fun thing to do, like catching crabs or minnows with your bait net and explore the waterside. An open attitude like this will help guarantee a positive response next time you ask if they want to tag along on a fishing trip.
Kids want to catch anything, it doesn’t have to be a trophy game fish. Even a sabiki with a few mackerel caught on it, or a few pan fish on light line is enough to get that smile going and heat up their desire to go out kayak fishing again. Scale down your gear so that it fits in their small hands. A smaller bass rod or spinning reel will make it simpler and easier for the little ones to help pull up the catch.
Make your initial trips short so that they’ll want more. Bring plenty of snacks and drinks to keep them occupied and happy. Keep the kids comfortable and lather them up with sunscreen and make sure that they have a big floppy hat covering their little heads. Launch in an easy location, hopefully with bathrooms and a friendly area for some pre- and post launch play activities. Even if that activity is nothing more than poking around the docks and rocks while you prep the yak for launching or loading onto the car.
If your child is prone to seasickness you’ll want to take a few extra precautions to ensure that they will have a good time and not suffer from mal de mar.
Kids’ Dramamine taken the night before or early the morning of your trip and then having a good breakfast to fill that little tummy will really help. Try to avoid greasy food for breakfast. Pancakes are a good belly filler that most kids love. Wearing one of the acupressure or electronic wristbands works for some folks, too. Some ginger drinks and ginger candy is another easy way to fight those seasick blues. If your son or daughter starts to get sick it might be time to head into the harbor and cast around the breakwall and that flat water for some bass. If the sickness continues, then it’s time to get off the water and make them happy again.
Teach them the safety of a comfortable PFD. The cooler looking the PFD (ie: Spiderman or Ninja Turtles) the more likely they will want to wear that device all day long. Put some surprises for them in a couple of the pockets of their PFD.
Hobie has a few tandem kayaks that can work great as the family vessel of choice, but my favorite in the whole lineup is the Tandem Island. Not only do you get two Vantage seats with two MirageDrives but when the trampolines are installed it becomes a “family party barge” with room for a couple more kids, and tons of fun when the sail is up. The Outfitter and the Oasis are also great MirageDrive platforms with plenty of room on the kayak. If storage at your condo or apartment is a problem, you can try one of Hobie’s inflatable kayaks like the i14T. This boat fits in a soft roll-around case and only weighs 67 pounds. If you’re on a budget and would like to buy a paddle type kayak, the Kona and the Odyssey are two stable kayaks with plenty of deck space to add a child in the middle of the yak on the (solo) center seat area.
These first trips in your Hobie kayak with your children, is the best time to instill some conservation into their values. Releasing fish you don’t want or need, and taking a few select ones home for dinner will help set them up for a wonderful future as a Coastal Conservation Association member and volunteer. Picking up a few pieces of trash around the launch will instill that pride of ownership in your local area and help set a great example for their adult lives.
Take advantage of all the summertime kid’s fishing activities in your area and let them see how much other kids enjoy our wonderful sport. Bring them to one of the less competitive kayak tournaments and let them have fun fishing with you and maybe win something in the kids’ divisions or the raffle.
Savor this special moment, making memories with your children and their friends, as this wonderful magical time in your lives will be gone sooner than you think. I miss our times on the water together with my son Kyle who is now 29 years old and living in South Africa. Hopefully, if you’re one of the lucky ones, someday you’ll be teaching a new generation of grandchildren how to kayak fish and enjoy this wonderful sport and all our treasured resources.
Check back weekly for new videos and stories by the Hobie Fishing Top Guns.