One of our very favorite fishing memories was taking our girls to the the river right at ice off. I (Stormy) set up our oldest daughter with a rod and helped her cast into the river. Andy was standing on a rock down stream casting his rod and I walked a few steps away from our daughter to get my pole ready.
As I was rigging my pole, I looked up to check on our other daughters playing near the pullout when suddenly we heard our oldest saying “oh no” and backing up the bank away from the river. She was reeling as fast as she could and walking backwards just as fast; all the while chanting “oh no” over and over.
Turns out she caught a fish and absolutely refused to touch it so she was trying to back away as fast as she could. As she was reeling she couldn’t understand why the fish was chasing her up the bank! She finally dropped the rod and took off to the car. It was definitely a memorable fishing trip.
Along with having four daughters we have also hosted countless families on our boats over the years and kiddos with every level of emotions towards holding fish. Here are the six easy steps we have developed on our guide boats and in our family to help kids feel more secure when holding a fish.
Here are six tips to help get your kiddos to hold the fish they catch.
1. Start by holding the fish and letting them touch it with one finger. (Remember if you are releasing the fish to have them wet their hand fist.)
2. If you are keeping fish wait until it is “less active” and then try to hold them. (Part of the problem isn’t the feeling of the fish but their flopping around.)
3. Reassure them that even if the fish flops around it won’t hurt them.
4. Have them cradle ‘hold’ it while you are still holding it. (lightly place their hands around the fish.)
5. Slowly place the fish in their hands and remove yours. If they are uncomfortable take the fish back and praise, praise, praise them for their efforts.
6. Remember that not all kids love holding fish and that’s ok! Praise them for trying and never be negative about the experience no matter what the outcome.
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