Fish

Special Note:  I am just getting started with this page, but look for it to be a great central resource page with links out to any other information you’ll need to help you enjoy some great hiking experiences with your family.

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My kids love to catch fish and I love to go fishing.  It is quite a different experience combining the 2.  I take the kids fishing to watch them have fun and learn how to fish.  My oldest is serious as all get out about it while my youngest is quite the joker.  Both create one heck of an experience.  Here are a few things we’ve learned from getting our kids out fishing.

Places

Ponds

Lakes

Streams

Rivers

Fishing Vessels

Land

This is the most obvious of fishing vessels and the easiest.  If you are just getting started, then I recommend find a little park in your area that has a small lake or pond with some fishing access.  Great place to take your kids to get started as well.  You can catch a variety of species from land or fishing piers as well, depending on the season and location.

Ice

This is a big category on its own and I’ve been learning more and more about ice fishing the last few years after moving to Minnesota.  I’ll share my experiences and knowledge, which might be pretty relatable for a newbie as I have been working my way through it myself.

Wading

Wading is many times reserved for stream fishing and chasing after various trout and salmon species.

Inflatables

You can find many types of inflatables, from one man float tubes (pontoons) to 14′ motorized boats.  Many of these options can be pretty handy, depending on what you are trying to do, where you are going and what type of vehicle you have to transport.

Kayak

I have quite a bit of fishing out of my kayak and this is quite honestly one of my favorite ways to fish.  I do not own a specific fishing kayak and you can manage to fish out of whatever kayak you have.  There are by all means, many advantages to using a purpose built fishing kayak, but you can get the job done without.

I could only purchase 1 kayak at the time and wanted one that I could do day trips with and even an overnight adventure if I really wanted, but still have the stability to do some fishing out of it.  I went with a day touring kayak.  It’s not as wide and stable as a recreational kayak, but also not as narrow and fast as a touring kayak.  It is middle of the road for both, but allows me to cover a lot of ground.  I like to go out exploring in the kayak and do a little fishing while I am at it versus fishing only.

Canoe

There are also a lot different types of canoes out there and just like kayaks, it depends a lot on what you are going to do with them.

We have a cheap Old Town Canoe that we bought with a coupon while on discount during the offseason at Dicks Sporting Goods.  It has now lasted us about 6 years and we’ll get quite a few more out of it.  It has a 700 lb capacity with 3 seats, dry storage and under seat storage.  It is not the lightest or fastest thing out there, but all 4 of us have been using it since Reid was a baby.  I suspect we might run out of space for all 4 of us in a year or 2, but we paid less than $400 for it and have had some fantastic times in it.

I can’t find our specific canoe on the market anywhere, but here is a very similar one on Amazon from Sun Dolphin that has an 800 lb capacity versus the 700 lb capacity that ours has.  This also has a rib down the middle of the floor, that might help it paddle straighter and negate some of the floor flex that ours has.

Boat

I don’t know how much information I will provide initially on fishing boats, but I will come back to it at some point.  I spent a good part of my life on boats of various types and sizes and could talk hours about boats.  I do not personally own a boat now, but tend to stay up on what is out there as I have always had an interest in boats.  I have a little task on my bucket list to accomplish one day of building my own custom fishing boat.  Like I said, I will come back to this later.  I think I can provide some good ground information for the newbie person to boats and boating here.

Gear

Keep it simple goes a long ways when it comes to family fishing.

Bank fishing

No doubt, this is the easiest way to get it done and kids have a blast catching rock bass and little sunfish.

Poles

Do not go open face poles with the kids.  As much as us Dads want to brag about our kids coming off of training wheels, we also like to brag about our kids using open face reels.  Save yourself the hassle.  Our suggestion is a spin cast reel with the reel mounted below the rod handle.  I would also skip the Mickey Mouse Rods and just get the cheap $29 combo set from Dicks, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro, Cabela’s or Amazon.  The rods are great for the money and the reels are good enough for what you are trying to do.  If you use them a ton or they get wet often, you may need to replace the reels after a couple seasons, since the cheaper the reel the cheeper the bearings.  You can get new reels for $10 to $20 though and put the new reel back on the same rod.

Our kids are currently using the Shakespeare Synergy Rod & Reel Combo.  Here is the same one on Amazon:

 

Tackle

Hook, line, sinker and a bobber.  Lose the bobber if you’re in a canoe and just have them drop the line over the side of the boat.  Seriously, this is all you need.  Put a worm on the hook and you’re all set.  Use smaller hooks for Blue Gill and Sun Fish or you’ll just end up with an empty hook all day.  Teach the kids also to pull that thing up when they get the nibble to hook the fish in the lips, otherwise you’ll be digging hooks out all day long and keeping some fish that you would otherwise throw back in the lake.

Eagle Claw #8 Aberdeen Hooks – This is a good, go to hook for panfish.  You could go smaller with a #10, but they’ll start swallowing the hooks and you’ll end up keeping fish that are smaller than you want to keep.  If you go to #6, you’ll keep yourself to catching good size panfish, but will also get your bait stripped by the medium size guys all day that you may want to catch.  #8 seems to be a good happy medium for panfish.
Eagle Claw Bass Casting Sinker Assortment – These have been my go to sinkers since I can remember fishing.  Enough said.

Fishing With Kids

Learn from my mistakes…  If your kids see you casting, they will want to start casting.  This doesn’t work very well with 2 kids in a canoe and mom is not real happy about hooks flying over her head.

Kids like to catch fish, but Dad likes to catch big fish.  If Dad spends all day trying to catch 1 big fish.  Dad won’t get to go fishing anymore because mom and the kids won’t want to go fishing anymore.  Go find a nice little pan fish hole and watch smiles light up on your kids’ faces.  Save the real fishing adventure for when you are by yourself.  Yes, I said by yourself.  Every once in awhile you need to take off and go.  It is probably going to require you to get up early, but it will be worth it.

Our Top 5 Family Friendly Fishing Trips

This will obviously change over time as we cover more places to fish and maybe in the near future as I work on finishing up our trip reports and adventures that jog my memory of other good family fishing adventures that we have had.

Roaring River State Park – Missouri

  • Hands down, a fantastic place to take your kids trout fishing.

Kimball Lake – Minnesota

  • Nice little stocked trout lake.  Both kids caught Rainbow Trout while drifting in the canoe.

Rush Lake Ice Fishing – Minnesota

  • We’ve always had good luck catching Crappie on West Rush Lake through the ice.

Grandma’s Dock – Michigan

  • Hard to beat fishing off of Grandmas dock with the kids.

Caseville – Michigan

  • Perch fishing in 14 feet of water off Sand Point
    • It’s been years and I don’t how the perch fishing still is here, but some of the best times I had fishing as a kid.

Online Fishing Gear Merchants

Gander Mountain