If You Teach A Kid To Fish


While walking along the river at Side Cut Metropark last year, my eight-year-old spotted some discarded fishing lures.  Like any kid, he felt he had to collect these.

Like any kid, now that he was armed with hooks, he decided that he needed to go fishing.

Except for a stint as a camp counselor twenty years ago, I don’t fish.

But I do like being outdoors.

I do like encouraging my kids to be outdoors.

So we learned how to fish.

Minimal Investment

Being a typical eight-year-old, patience isn’t my son’s strong suit.

Fishing requires a lot of patience.

Before I invested in a proper fishing pole, I wanted to see if he truly had enough patience to merit the investment.

We went to a lake armed with a long stick, twine, bait, and those (disinfected) hooks that he found at Sidecut.  Unsurprisingly, we had no luck catching fish.  However, he did keep at it for an hour and a half.  While he was disappointed, it was a win in my book.

For our next trip, we invested in proper fishing line, hooks of our own, and some fun-looking plastic bait.  It turns out, the fish were not at all interested in that plastic bait.  Fortunately, seasoned fishermen and women are happy to share their tricks.  It turns out that fish LOVE bread!

(However, bread isn’t great for fish’s digestive systems, so do limit your use of bread while fishing, particularly if you’re just throwing the fish back.)

What will you need to get started?

  • A long, sturdy stick
  • fishing line (or very strong thread, if you have that around)
  • hooks
  • Wire Cutters and/or Scissors (for cutting the line, if necessary.  Wire cutters are helpful, in case you need to cut the hook off a fish’s mouth.)
  • Bait (nightcrawlers, mealworms, sandwich bread)
  • Fishing License  It’s easy to purchase online.  If anyone asks to see it, you can pull it up on your phone.

At first, my son was a wee bit embarrassed by his Huckleberry Finn-style fishing pole.  But one day some well-outfitted teenagers were passing by us.  One commented to the other, “That pole is dope.”

My son stuck with it long enough to merit a real fishing pole for his birthday!  Maumee Tackle is a great place to get hooked up with proper equipment and tips.

Kid-Friendly Fishing Holes in & around Toledo

Our favorite places to fish are:

Parent Help

As a parent teaching your kid to fish, you will have to:

  • Explain how very sharp the hook it.  Explain where they can cast off, and how far away they must be from other people to cast off.  If you know your child will be flinging their pole around, possibly hooking other people, they aren’t mature enough to try fishing.   (In that case, try tying some bread to fishing line without a hook, and they can have fun watching the fish eat the bread.  Then you don’t have to worry about anyone getting hooked OR taking the fish off the hook!)  Then again, when faced with a situation that puts them in charge of something with a genuine amount of danger–however small–kids do tend to rise to the occasion.
  • Detangle the fishing line (come prepared with backup poles/sticks, so the kids have something to do while you’re untangling the first one).  Be prepared for this is a never-ending job!
  • Baiting the hook.  If your kids are older, once they’re aware of the danger of the hook, they can bait their own hooks (especially if you’re using bread as bait).
  • Take the fish off the line.  Most kids’ hands aren’t big enough to grasp the fish properly.  Let them touch the fish.  Show them how to grab it firmly, holding down its fins (so you don’t get poked).  But until their hands are big enough, that’s a job you’ll have to be willing to do!

Written out, this sounds like a lot to keep in mind.  But, in reality, it’s a great way to get outside with your kids, try something new, observe nature, and begin a new, life-long hobby!


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Jill Douglas
Jill Douglas is a 40-something momma to her three minions (one girl and two boys, ages 11, 8, and 4). Originally from Ft. Wayne, IN, Jill spent most of her adult life in northern Mexico, almost halfway between the midwest and her husband's hometown of Mexico City. This last summer, Her husband's job asked him if he would be interested in moving to the Midwest, and Jill is thrilled to finally live so close to her family. Jill has been a stay-at-home mom for the last 11 years. In the wee hours of the morning, she teaches English online in China. When she's neglecting things around her house, she teaches herself how to knit, dabbles in music (flute and voice), watercolor, modern calligraphy, gardening, volunteering at church, wandering the woods, and kayaking the rivers. Jill blogs at http://jillmichelledouglas.com, sharing epiphanies, inspiration, or great places to explore! Having spent the last 10 years documenting the great things about Saltillo, Mexico (the city where she lived), she's now looking forward to this new adventure of discovering and sharing the wonders that Toledo has to offer!


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