The weather’s warming up (slowly) and it’s that time of year to plan for your kids or grandkids annual visit. For boat owners, that means taking them out on the water and, if they’re old enough, introducing them to fishing.

Kids of all ages love adventures, and a day out fishing qualifies. But it’s always a good idea to plan ahead, lay in the right supplies, and keep expectations for all participants in the can-do range.

Here’s a list of things to think about when planning a fishing trip for the kids.

Attention span.  Most kids under the teen years will have a limited attention span. A trip our on the water will be great fun … until it’s not! If your kids are small, it’s wise to plan a limited trip or two at first, until they get used to it. 

Safety.  PFDs for all aboard, of course. Lay in plenty of water and snacks: gotta keep them hydrated and well fed. Sunblock applied liberally, and hats for those with fair skin. And since we’re talking about fish hooks, it’s important to educate and supervise when tying on a lure, or baiting a hook.

Expectations.  Probably not a good idea to take the tots out to deep water in hopes of landing a nice tuna or marlin. Here in Rhode Island in-shore waters, you’ll usually find good action with Atlantic cod, black seabass, tautog and scup. All those species are abundant and usually catchable in good conditions. And they come in sizes that young fisherpeople can handle.

Gear.  Give the newbies a fighting chance: shorter rods (four to five feet) and reels with good drags that will prevent a fish going on a wild run are in order for the kids’ first attempts.

Live bait over lures.  The fish that are biting will tell you what to use, but generally speaking, more fish species respond to live minnows or a hunk of squid. Once they get used to the process, you can begin working in artificial lures.

Educate.  There are ample opportunities to teach the kids something new when you take them out fishing. Show them how the boat works, including the live wells and fish boxes. Point out the diving sea birds that show where schools may be swimming. Demonstrate the catch-and-release process and explain why that helps build and sustain species. Weather. Seamanship. Listen to the radio calls to and from the Coast Guard and explain what’s going on. In many ways, it’s not just a fishing trip but a seminar on life at sea. 

And always remember…kids are as different as snowflakes. Some will take to fishing and boating like a duck to water…others will want to get back ashore as soon as possible. You never can tell! And the ones who don’t like it this year may end up loving it next year.  Be patient. Like a parent.

All of us at McShane Yacht Sales have taken our kids out fishing. If you ever need more advice…just ask us!